Saturday night really ramped up to unforeseen levels of excitement when we got a call saying the Fire Service had broken down our front door.
P and I were at the pub (where else?), enjoying the company of an old friend who we had not seen for some time. We were sampling the beer-y offerings (tasty Hallertau, in case you care) of a very cool bar in Ponsonby (Golden Dawn - honestly, I found the bar much more appealing than I find it's website, so don't be too judgy), reminiscing about good times in NYC and generally enjoying ourselves. You know, as you do on a Saturday evening when there's been a bit of sunshine and the rest of a long weekend stretches in front of you (hooray for Labour day!).*
And then our phones rang simultaneously. P's mother was calling him; his sister calling me. For whatever reason, our building manager had P's sister's landline number as the contact point for us and had called her in desperation - FIRE MEN ARE HERE. THERE ARE ALARMS SOUNDING. SMOKE SMOKE SMOKE. My MIL is currently in residence at my SIL's place, as she is just this week back in NZ from Quite Far Away. So they both hopped on their phones to impart this important news.
P threw the bar tab at our poor friend yelling "tell me later how much we owe" and completely forgetting it was his credit card behind the bar. We raced out to a waiting taxi and I tried to do a "my house is on fire, step on it" bit which caused P to give me an absolutely withering look. To be fair, we were less than 5 minutes' drive away and it sounded like, given the Fire Service were there, things were under control.
And so they were, sort of. We dashed up to the apartment to find the Fire Service gone (no firemen for me, booooo!) and our front door mangled. Somehow the lock was still intact, but the jamb was gone, as was the lock casing and a sizeable chunk of the plaster on the wall around the lock. The door was seriously dented and there were wood and paint chips all over the entryway. THANK THE BABY JEEBERS they had not damaged my new hallway table, put together with at least THIRTY WHOLE MINUTES of my blood, sweat and tears as part of what we like to call the 'Flatpack Furniture Debacle of 2012'.
BUT BUT BUT there was a ghastly smell oozing from the apartment. As I ventured in, I found the source, which was also the source of the fire. P, in his usually laudable chef-y mode, had decided to use the shells of the tasty prawns we'd had in a salad for lunch for making stock. He'd put them in a pot, covered them with water and proceeded to forget entirely he'd put them on a slow simmer before we left for the pub. I hadn't noticed, but nor had I actively looked - I'd assumed they were waiting for us to get home. Those bad boys had simmered away and at one stage must have reduced to a tasty broth...which then boiled dry and burned, burned, burned.
Mercifully, the fire alarm had gone off before the flames could catch anything but the pot itself. It was blackened, together with the splashback and surrounding elements. But the whole apartment absolutely reeked of burnt prawn shell, which is a distinctive smell that I have never before had the opportunity to recognise. It will be a long time before I'm able to sear the stench out of my nostrils. We slept with doors and windows opened, boiled lemons on the stovetop and STILL I'm waking up in the night paranoid about a fiery exoskeletal invasion.
P was furious that our back window was fairly open, through which the Fire Service could have gained access. Our building manager says she tried to stop them busting the door and use the window instead, but they were concerned that someone could be passed out inside, given the level of smoke. Which, you know, fair enough! I am grateful for them and their rapid response to an emergency - we could have been facing a total fire loss situation, not to mention the possibility of burning down other units in our apartment block.
Anyway, P's been in touch with the insurance company and, despite our cover, there's probably still a fairly hefty bill coming our way. Just to get all Pollyanna on you, I've found a bright side but it's a horrible one. It's simply that IT WASN'T ME who caused this. P's been pretty hang dog (and also kind of offensively defensive towards me - granted, I demanded an apology...not my finest, most empathetic hour). Poor old chook.
No moral to this story, I guess, aside perhaps from 'Don't be Dumb Like Us and Leave Your Gas Hob on When Leaving the House for an Extended Beer Session, Or Any Reason, I Suppose'. Now there's a slogan for fire safety.
*What a horrendous sentence/paragraph/thing. Sorry.