The Fire at My Apartment Building

On Tuesday morning, there was a big fire in my apartment complex that killed one person and displaced many others, including me.


I woke up around 5 AM to banging on the door. I could see fire trucks when I opened it, so I quickly put shoes on and grabbed my purse and laptop. I guess now I have an answer to that question about what I’d save from a fire.


The complex that I lived in until Tuesday is an older one, with wooden buildings that are all connected and form a circle around a courtyard. It’s grandfathered into the fire codes, apparently, so there’s no building-wide alarm and no sprinklers.


My apartment is on the side of the building and the building that was on fire is in the back of the complex. I saw the hoses being aimed at it when I went outside- by then the flames were gone. I was just about to call my parents when they called me—they’d seen it on the news.

You can read more details about it here, or in a lot of places—just Google “Arizona Terrace fire.”


I can’t believe Tuesday was only three days ago. Since then, I’ve entered my apartment twice and attended a meeting for all residents. My apartment was not on fire but when I went in, the floor was all wet and everything smelled like smoke. I can’t stay there because the electricity was shut off to a block of units that includes mine. They’re working with an electrician to try to restore power to my building, but even if they do, I don’t want to live there anymore. My lease was up at the end of the month anyway.


The majority of my stuff is okay—some of it got wet, most of it smells like smoke, but I won’t lose very much, and I do have renter’s insurance and everyone’s telling me it will make things much easier. (PSA: if you rent, seriously, get insurance. It’s very cheap and completely worth it.) A cleaning company has all my clothes and bedding right now—in a week they should be getting everything back to me. Until they restore power, I need a police or fire escort to enter the unit and get more of my stuff.


For the time being, I’m staying with my parents in the suburbs. They’ve been awesome, but the commute is a bitch and I’m now looking for a new place to live. I think I might sublet for the summer and then look for something more permanent.


It was caused by some asshole dropping a cigarette on bark mulch. I’ve written before about how angry smokers make me, but now that I’ve actually lost my home because some idiot just had to inhale smoke into his or her lungs, no one is allowed to disagree with me on how much people who smoke suck.


I know it could be worse. I’m alive and unhurt, I have a place to stay, and I’ll retain most of my stuff. I feel terrible for the friends and family of the man who died and for those who lost everything. There’s a fund set up to help those who need it.


But it still sucks. Yesterday I broke down crying and just felt very alone. When bad stuff happens and you’re already unhappily single, it has a way of making everything seem worse. And every once in a while I catch a whiff of smoke on one of the things I got from the apartment.


One good thing that’s coming up: the week after next, I have a work trip to Grand Cayman. I was invited with a bunch of sales colleagues after my performance over the last couple of years landed me in the top 10% of sales professionals company-wide. Christina’s coming with me as my guest and I am looking forward to a fantastic time in the sun. And after this week, I really need it.


I can’t believe this is happening. I didn’t want to live in that apartment forever, but when I moved out, I wanted it to be MY choice, you know?

2 thoughts on “The Fire at My Apartment Building

  1. Tim

    I heard about this fire from one of my friends who lives in Somerville. I’m terribly sorry that you were one of the ones impacted by this fire. Hopefully everything gets better soon, and you’ll find yourself a more permanent place to stay.

  2. Ellen

    Hey Katie,

    Sorry to hear that you were affected by a fire. I haven’t ever been affected by something like this so I cant imagine what you have gone through but it sounds very unsettling.
    I guess it is one of those things that you never think will happen to you and it sucks even more knowing that it was something that could have been prevented!

    How is the hunt for a new apartment going?



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