The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Friday, January 04, 2008

When There Is Nothing Left To Burn, You Must Set Yourself On Fire

How To Really Mess Up Your New Year's Party:

During a family New Year's get-together (the French New Year is a much more low-key celebration, more about eating than intoxication) you go to the kitchen to make some sort of flaming whiskey drink.

You botch the process so badly that you set the kitchen on fire.

You flail about so ineffectually trying to extinguish the fire that you suffer burns over one hundred percent of your body (!) and your wife is badly burned as well trying to extinguish you.

When the pompiers arrive to take you to the hospital, they are so concerned with getting you stabilised (you will be pronounced DOA anyway) that they fail to notice that the fire is still smouldering inside the wall.

Where it will reignite to torch the three apartments above yours.

Causing the evacuation, and possible destruction from structural and water damage, of your entire historic Haussman-era building.

Which will still be being gutted of burned and waterlogged debris three days later.

Causing your correspondent a moment of panic as he emerges from the Metro from his two-week vacation in Spain to see his block full of caustic smoke, fire trucks and rescue personnel.

EDIT: Fire investigators have ruled out the flaming-whiskey-drink explanation for the fire's origin, making it much less of a Darwin-Awards-nominee story and more merely sad. As of this morning, a week after the fire, there was still a perimeter around the building blocking half of the street, and some half-burned debris, including an area rug and a mattress with fuzzy blue blanket, sitting forlorn and rain-sodden in the street as passersby squinted up at the vacant smokestained windows.

EDIT again: I'll be posting photos again soon--likely from the Spain trip--so have no fear that this blog has gone black & white.


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