Posted December 19, 2009on:
Tonight, I’m trying really hard to remember the spirit of the season. And yet, I am perturbed. Angry, even.
A couple of years ago, we had a fire at my townhouse complex. Two units gutted, one with extensive smoke and water damage. The people that lived in those units just moved back in a couple of weeks ago.
The culprit? The elderly man in the end unit who was cold (in the middle of August) and turned a space heater on and it caught fire. No one’s really sure if the heater got too close to something or if it short-circuited or what. There’s no blame anywhere.
A little backstory: the couple in that unit, the man and his wife, are elderly. She is often gone, visiting her grandkids (another story :sigh:). He is left alone.
Oh and the year before the fire, he was diagnosed with dementia. It was harmless, really, before the fire. He’d grouse at people parking in the visitors parking, grouse at people driving too fast in the complex, etc. And then the fire. His wife had said he wouldn’t be back – that she was getting help for him.
Today, Darren came upstairs and said there were firetrucks outside. I immediately went to the window to ogle the firemen. Unfortunately, they were pulling away. I went upstairs to get some diapers so we could go out and from the upstairs window, I saw the fire supervisor’s truck still there. I figured they were conducting some sort of inspection on the newly-repaired units.
We packed up and went out. When we pulled out of the garage, we noticed there was a second truck, some firefighters putting away some equipment, and the old man from that unit wandering around. Our neighbours 2 doors down were out and watching.
On the way to Costco, I informed Darren that if our family (especially the Poptart) was hurt because of something the old man did, there would be hell to pay. He agreed with me.
Apparently, the wife had gone out and he was going to boil some water. So he put a kettle on their gas stove.
It was an electric kettle. You know, the kind with the plastic outside and the base it sits on that you switch on to boil (no stove needed)?
Another neighbour heard the fire alarm, called 911 and then went in to get him. He was in the kitchen, watching, and refusing to leave because he didn’t think it would get any bigger. Apparently the flames were already at the fan. The neighbour is having breathing problems because of inhaling poisonous fumes from the burning plastic and was on 100% oxygen for a couple of hours.
The wife came home, was told what happened, and left him at home alone again. TWICE IN THE SAME AFTERNOON.
That’s when the 2 doors down neighbours called the police to see what could be done. They sent someone by to do an evaluation.
And so, I am feeling perturbed at the moment. As Darren says, the old man has proven, at least twice, that he does stupid shit when he’s left alone. And his wife refuses to recognize this.
I can only hope that at this point, she will get the help she needs.
Because really, if it happens again, I’m not the only one who will be uncharitable.
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