The Fire or the Mahler?

I have two choices about what to blog.  On Saturday evening, February 4, I participated in a rare performance (and an LA premier) of the Mahler 8th Symphony with the full forces requested by Gustav Mahler.  There were over 1,000 people—chorus and orchestra—on stage.  The Mahler 8 has been performed in Los Angeles, but with only (only!) about 350 musicians.

Let’s go with the fire.  On Sunday evening a fire broke out in the unit next door to us.  It was very serious, generating heat so severe that the blinds in an upstairs, closed room melted.  Fortunately it was contained in the unit itself.  My husband heard something heavy fall, went outside to look and saw smoke billowing from the front door.  He called 911 and pounded on the doors of the other units to alert the homeowners.  The tenant who was in Unit 3 wasn’t home.

The Fire Department was there in three minutes.  It does help that we live about a half-mile from a fire station.  They work fast!  In a few minutes they broke the door open, dragged very long hoses in, and went in themselves wearing gas masks and eye shields.  It was impressive as hell.  They even got the two dogs (huge mastiffs) out safely.

No one, thank God, was hurt.  We found out that because of the heat it could have easily spread to other units.  We dodged a bullet.

One of the other homeowners called the owners of the unit, and they came down.  They were upset, obviously.  Before they rented out, they put in about $50,000 worth of improvements, including new floors and rugs.  All ruined.  The tenant had run out only for a few minutes to buy some Gatorade.  That’s how fast it happened.

The firefighters paid almost no attention to any of us until the fire was out, which is exactly as it should be.  Then we spent almost another hour giving them information.  Joe, who is President of the HOA got most of the questions.  The dogs went to the vet, and then to the home of the unit’s owners.  I don’t know where the tenant is staying.

So we are now involved with our HOA manager, insurance companies (who will be conducting investigations as to the cause), construction companies, and etcetera.  The LAFD will be conducting its own investigation.

Fortunately, one of the homeowners is a businesswoman with her own management firm.  She has a network of insurance companies, construction firms and—inevitably—lawyers.  Let the games begin.  Sigh.

We walked through the unit the next day.  It’s a total loss.  Joe made sure the electricity and water were off.  The walls are black, there is debris all over; the time estimate for cleaning is about two months.  The tenant had just spent about $20,000 on new furniture and furnishings.  A huge flatscreen TV was semi-melted.  The intercom and thermostat were melted.  Blinds were melted.  We’ve already had an emergency crew in to cover the broken windows with plywood.  We need to have our own insurance company in to test the integrity of our walls.  They’re probably all right, but we gotta check.

Oh, and firemen really do wear red suspenders.

So please be careful, people.  It can happen in a flash.

Conclusion of the Mahler next time.

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7 thoughts on “The Fire or the Mahler?

  1. Wow! Sounds like a miracle that the dogs made it out alive. Hope the tenant had renters insurance. Glad the firedwall between your units held, although I imagine you are getting some smoke-smell anyway. I’m curious as to the cause when it gets determined. We’ve dealt with flooding–definitely no fun!– but fire, especially this one sounds worse.

    In the mean time, hope you are still having a swell time with the Mega-Mahler!

  2. No official results as to the cause. The insurance company and the LAFD are investigating and I’ll let you all know as soon as we know something.

    We are pretty sure the walls are sound, but we’ll have our insurance come out to do what lawyers call due diligence.

    I’m very glad Joe was home, because after a weekend of Mahler and then church on Sunday (for which I need to be up at 5:30 a.m.) I was asleep when he realized something was wrong. Thank you everyone for your concern.

  3. WOW. I’m so glad nobody was hurt and it’s all just property damage. Crossing fingers that your walls are still sound and that you won’t be affected by the fire any more than you already have been.

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