Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Fire in the West Bottoms

I was sitting on my couch this afternoon, doing absolutely nothing, when I heard a lone siren outside. Not thinking much of it, I decided to investigate anyway and made the short walk to my window.

Much to my surprise, I could actually see smoke billowing up from the West Bottoms, an industrial sector of the city that my apartment happens to overlook. A few weeks ago, I had watched a couple of guys burn some tires in a parking lot in the same area, and at first, I thought the same thing must be going on. There was just a little plume of white smoke rising into the sky near I-70; cool-looking, certainly, but not appearing to be that big of a deal.

As I continued watching the smoke rise into the air, I noticed a subtle shift - what started out as white smoke had begun taking on a brownish hue. Hmmm... there also seemed to be more smoke now than before... Then, very quickly, large plumes of dark black smoke began rising into the sky from the source of the blaze below.

Luckily for the rush-hour commuters the wind was blowing toward the northeast, so the huge clouds of smoke were drifting across the Missouri River and towards the downtown airport and not over the nearby highway. As firetrucks, police cars, and ambulances began snaking their way towards the site of all of this commotion, I snapped a couple shots with my camera phone.

I then decided to phone my brother Justin to let him in on the fun. Seeing the news helicopter for Channel 41 flying in the sky overhead, I thought this event very likely to make the evening news. Justin, who had been flipping through the local stations while I was talking, informed me I was in fact witness to a "breaking news story," as all of the local channels had broken into their afternoon television programming for coverage of this 'lil fiasco.

Apparently a tire warehouse had caught fire, over 100 firemen were on the scene already, and it was being called a four-alarm blaze. The smoke could be seen for miles all around, and it was obvious people had begun to notice it. My street, which leads to a scenic overlook of the very area that was the focus of all this attention, had begun filling up with cars - the chance to watch a building go up like a firecracker doesn't appear everyday.

For a while, I watched a couple guys in the park across the street who were also looking at the smoke. Eventually, they decided to head on their way, but they had no sooner taken more than a dozen steps when an explosion from the site of the fire reverberated across the city. They quickly did about-faces, running back to their previous vantage point. Loud noises are exciting, ha ha.

As five o'clock rolled around, I realized I needed to be on my way too. Class, class, class! I hopped in the shower, shampooed my hair (no conditioner, what a rebel!), and watched out the bathroom window... Though licks of fire were still teasing the air 40 feet above the ground, the fire department seemed to be getting the upper hand by this point. I watched one tiny figure perched atop a ladder-truck shooting great spurts of water from a hose at the ever-shrinking cloud of smoke rising from the ground. Jets of cool H2O were being directed at the blaze from many directions, and this seemed to finally be doing the trick. As I tossed on a t-shirt and some pants, I took one last look at the hullabaloo down below...

Never a dull moment, I thought. Never a dull moment.

KCTV5 Story (you can see my apt. building in the slideshow, picture 3 / photo #9 is taken from the roof of my tower, I think)

[Still lots of firetrucks there right now - but no more smoke, at least.]


At 5:05 PM, Blogger Danielle said...

Wow, and I tottally did not hear anything about this? LOL..Sheltered in pharm. The pics are a nice touch, btw!


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