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About 4am the night before last I woke up to hear someone buzzing all the apartments in the building downstairs and I thought it was some drunken wanker. Then suddenly someone was banging on my front door and I reckoned it was worth getting up to see what was going on. As soon as I got near the door I could smell THE SMOKE and went to have a look over the balcony – fire! My building was on fire! By this time Peter was also up and in less than five minutes we had got dressed, grabbed my laptop,  managed to wrangle the cats into the extra large carrier and joined the crowd that had gathered outside, just as the firemen began bashing in the metal door of the bar downstairs with massive hatchets.

Smoke was billowing out of a vent at the front of the bar, fire trucks were rumbling, and the cats were howling so I thought – to hell with this – and headed for the new boutique hotel that had just opened up the street. The night receptionist looked a bit nervous when he saw us and said he didn’t have a free room, but I told him we just wanted a place to sit and wait things out. So he showed us in and then fetched us a nice chilled bottle of mineral water. Meanwhile, I noticed that one or both cats had peed inside the carrier and hoped the receptionist couldn’t smell it.

It was only after we got comfortably seated that I started to shake. I had my iPhone with me (of course!) and tweeting about it helped me calm down. This was the second time in my life that I’d woken up in the middle of the night to find my house on fire. At least this time it wasn’t my actual apartment – that time I was up and out in about 45 seconds! But I also didn’t have cats back then.

Anyhow, after a while I went to see how things were going and found the rest of my neighbours over at the sleezy “chupita” after hours bar around the corner. The owner of this place also owns the bar that caught fire. It had been closed for ages and had just reopened a couple of weeks ago. Already the neighbours were hating it because it stayed open until 3am and its patrons left the outside pavement littered with cigarette butts. Well, guess we won’t have to worry about that anymore! But the weird thing was that all day Tuesday the bar had been closed, so how could the fire have started? If they had opened would they have seen that someone had left the cooker on, or whatever?

Finally we got the okay to go back to our homes. The police had been taking down everybody’s names and were relieved to see me as they thought I might still be inside (there had been a LOT of smoke). And so we were all escorted to our apartments so that the firemen to check and make sure there were no secondary fires anywhere. It was amazing how smoky the place was – it actually hurt to breathe – so we opened all the windows and doors and then I gave the cats a sponge bath and towelling down. Of course they didn’t enjoy it, but they also knew I was helping them smell better. In fact, they were so good once we got to the hotel. Honestly, they make way more of a fuss going to the vet’s. And once I got them tidied up the both had a massive grooming session, just letting me know that they do it much better!

I was shocked to find out that my neighbour had left his two cats in the apartment. How someone could leave their pets in a burning building is beyond me. I know that Pérez has ways in and out, but the other one is a house cat. Sheesh.

So that was the adventure. Now it will take ages to clean up! The whole place has a fine film of smoke on it which for the most part isn’t too visible. But when you start to wipe down a surface it suddenly goes all smudgy. Ah well, it could’ve been much worse and I’m so very glad that it wasn’t.