Thursday, June 10, 2010

House Fire Edition

Tuesday morning my little 2 year old Havanese Bichon saved my life. I was getting ready for work at my grocery store a few minutes before opening and his wild barking caught my attention. I opened the bathroom door only to discover hot dark smoke coming all down the hallway. Immediately I knew I was in a house fire. I got my brother up and told him "We've got a house fire. We need to get out right now!". Coming down the hallway the power went out and through the dark smoke I cut my head on something and breathed in plenty of hot toxic smoke burning my throat and lungs. I later found out the fire temperature might have hit as high as 1600 degrees.

I got outside the house, and borrowed a cell phone from a contractor working across the street to call 911. My brother used a chair to break a window out and used a garden hose to fight back the growing flames. Soon four fire trucks and numerous emergency workers arrived.

Both my brother and I were treated for smoke inhalation. Paramedics and firemen insisted I go to the hospital and rolled out a stretcher. But, I refused to go. I signed a release clearing them from liability and acknowledging that I wished to manage the aftermath details of the disaster instead.

The likely cause turns out to be a Coby LCD TV/DVD unit that I learned after the fire had been the subject of November 8, 2007 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall due to fire hazard. For some reason, Coby Electronics of Maspeth, NY, which has these units built for them in China never bothered to do adequate safety testing of these units which can be powered by house current, batteries or by an automobile cigarette lighter outlet. Consumer complaints after incidents drove the recall. In my case, if the dog hadn't of barked, my brother and I probably would have died in the blooms of hot black smoke inhalation or the 1600 degree flames.

Most of my 10,000 or so record collection was either burned or melted with the searing heat. And many movies and books were lost as well. My brother and I will be homeless for three months or more, but living in some rental unit while the work to repair as much $250,000 in structural damage and personal property loss is addressed.

And my home is one of very few to have a Wikipedia listing. It was designed by the famous architect Francis Marion Stokes. Now the home requires extensive repairs.

Not good.


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