fire in shanghai

Apparently this evening my building was on fire. One person, an elderly man, died. Details are scarce at this point.

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I usually make the trek home on autopilot, so I didn’t notice anything was amiss until I was turning into my complex and ran into police tape. And that’s when I noticed all the policemen, firemen, a firetruck, and a crowd of people milling around my complex entrance. The fire was out, but they were still cleaning up. The policemen lifted the tape because I said I lived there, and then I had to cross a shallow sea of foam, water, and glass shards to get to my building. Huh. More police stationed at the building entrance. I go in after they mention something about how I should have used the back entrance, and in the lobby (which connects two buildings), I turn towards my elevator bay and am confronted by another crowd of people, some in pajamas, some in uniform. Crap. It was my building that was on fire.

The main security guard recognized me, so I was let through after he wrote down my floor number. And then … water. So much water. Only about a centimeter or two deep, but it was just everywhere. No elevator too, so I had to climb A LOT of stairs. And the stairwell was covered in water. Splosh. Splosh. Splosh.

Apparently the fire was on the top floor of the building. My floor and apartment were fine with no damage whatsoever. Electricity works, but a policeman just stopped by to inform me that there is no gas (id est, no hot shower), though it should be restored in the morning. No word on when the elevators will be online again. I saw some pictures of the fire and it’s crazy to think that just a few hours ago that was my building, my home. That someone died not too far above me. And yet I’m here in my apartment watching TV, typing on my laptop, eating leftover pizza, and curled up in a blanket like any other night.

A few years ago there was another apartment fire, also in this neighborhood. That fire was far, far bigger, destroying the entire building and leaving 58 dead, but still. Put simply, fire safety (or the lack of) and the shoddy construction of buildings in this country terrifies me.