2024 – “Fire in the building! You gotta get out!”

………………………………………………(ignore April 30, 2017 publish date – this was published on March 12, 2024)


On Sunday evening, March 3, 2024, I was curled up on my couch watching Curb Your Enthusiasm (to be followed by Last Week Tonight With John Oliver) on HBO. I was ready for some laughs.

Curb… started at 10pm. At 10:26, the power in my building went out. I know the exact time because the power came right back on and I saw the time on my cable box. But as quickly as it came back on, it went off again………….and stayed off.

Thinking it would probably come back on for good, I waited……………and waited.

The first thing I saw other than darkness were red lights on my walls – probably a passing fire truck…………….but this one wasn’t passing by.

I got up to take a look out my LR picture window and saw two firetrucks parked next to the Second Reformed Church……………and one of them is facing the wrong way on one-way Ward St.

Looks serious…………..


Then my building’s fire alarm went off – uh-oh!

I started shooting video with my camera. I saw a hose that was hooked up to one of the trucks suddenly fill with water – uh-oh! again. Then I heard noises in the stairwell. Still filming, I stood near my front door to hear those noises better, which made the fire alarm sound louder and then…………well, see/hear for yourself:


I did as I was instructed, grabbed my phone, walked down 6 flights and filmed this by the front of the building:


I saw no smoke or flames, nor did I smell anything that would indicate a fire was in progress.

Some more quick pans:


I heard something about the problem being in the basement – specifically in an electrical panel. Since that would be near the back of the building, I decided to go there……………..but Ward St (the side street) was blocked off with a lot of fire equipment and personnel, so I walked around the church and through their parking lot (where I park my car right by Ward St – you can see it at the 7-second mark of the next video). That brought me right by one of the trucks that I initially saw from my LR:


I had crossed Ward St to see if I could get a better view of the back of my building from the municipal parking lot behind my building, but I – and the other people gathered there – were chased away by a fireman because another fire truck was coming in to be positioned right where we were standing.

Back to the church lot.

As you saw above, it was a truck from Englewood. Why Englewood? I have no idea.


It was getting a bit chilly and I had nothing on under my hoodie, so I jumped into my front-row car, turned on the heat and steadied my camera and phone on the dashboard.

Front-row car’s position as seen during the day from my LR picture window:

This is a camera shot that shows what’s going on in the back of the building. See the sign with the “P” on it? Behind that and one floor down is the basement room where the electrical panel resides. Still no sign of any fire or smoke (nor would there be for the duration):


For some reason, the Englewood truck has extended its ladder to the roof of that half of the building. I was later told that no one was on the ladder, so what was the purpose of the Englewood extension?

My apartment is on top of the other half of the back of the H-shaped building. You can see the LR picture window where I took the initial shots of the two firetrucks. If you look at the front of the building, both sides have 6 floors (it’s considered to be a 6-story building). The back half of the building that’s closest to the street is the same, but my half has 7 floors. That’s why I’m the only person you know who’s the 7th-floor tenant in a 6-story building (hey – it’s my only claim to fame these days).


Back to our show: See the street light on the street side of the building in the previous shot? Just above it are two transformers on a telephone pole. Sometime later on, a PSE&G truck was under it as a worker in a bucket extended up there to disconnect all the electrical wires to the building, so work could be done on replacing the electrical panel in the basement. He was working there in that bucket for the next two days.

I still don’t know if any water was used on that panel.


This is a wide PANO shot (click to enlarge) of the Ward St scene as taken from my car, complete with strange, shadowy reflections from my windshield:


Another clickable image – this time taken from Anderson St – one very short block north of Ward St:


Opposite of the above, looking up Union St back toward Anderson St:


I have to mention that when I was up near Anderson St, I saw someone being carried away on a stretcher from the vicinity of my building across Union St and into the back of an ambulance on Conklin Place, which is almost directly across Union St from my building. The ambulance left immediately.

I was too far away and there were too many obstructions to get a clear shot, but I know I saw this. I’m not interested in revealing any personal information, but I would like to know – in the absence of fire or smoke – what happened. What would have caused something like that to happen?

I have it on good authority that it wasn’t a fireman, so that leaves a tenant from my building and THAT’S where my concern lies. Anyone have an answer?


Continuing on…………here’s a look down Ward St, where all the wet action appears to be (I wish it was sharper):


I think this is my favorite picture of the event. There’s a hydrant very close by to the left (but out of the picture). I saw the water coming out of the hose and was just going to zoom in on that, but then saw the firefighter straddling the hose – a much more interesting picture:


That last picture was taken close to Anderson St. I had been on my way back around the church to return to where I had been before on Ward St.

When I got there, I noticed yet another fire truck, but this one was on State St – a block east of (behind) my building. I decided to walk over there and see what’s what.

Nothing, apparently. I didn’t even see anyone behind the wheel, so I walked a bit down State St until I could see a potential PANO shot that would include this truck and some of the action up Ward St:


That shot showed me something I wasn’t able to see all evening – the emergency lights on each floor of the stairwell:


At this point, it was getting close to midnight and there was nothing left to shoot. But there was also nowhere to go to start working on my images, so I asked to speak with someone in charge.

I was directed to an HFD gentleman and asked when we could get back in the building. He said that should happen fairly soon, but then also mentioned his frustration at not being able to get ahold of a single person from the landlord’s office to show up here (gee, what a surprise!).


A few minutes later, we started gathering near the front door. He told us that they were almost set to let us in to walk up the stairs to our dark apartments.

I told him that he’d have to prop the locked interior door open because our keys work electronically. No one can get in if that door gets shut when there’s no electricity.

He wasn’t aware of the type of keys we use and thanked me for the info.

The result:


At about 12:20am, we all began the slow walk upstairs (with my “upstairs” being further than anyone else’s………after about the fourth floor, I had to take a break on each floor).

I just wanted to get into my bed, but I always sleep with a fan on (my “white noise”), so it was tough not having that for the next two nights.


This was the scene from my LR window later that morning – the PSE&G bucket truck, which was there Monday and Tuesday:


One other Monday pic: two HFD officials and some other guy:


Monday’s notices from the landlord:

Currently we have an electrician on site along with PSE&G.

Our goal is to have the power restored to all of the common areas of the building as well as the elevators before dark. 


We have just been advised that the power to the common areas as well as elevators is taking a bit longer than expected, however we are hoping for it to be back up and running by 10:00pm. If you have a gas stove inside your unit, it will not work. We will advise you as to when the gas will be restored.


We expect to have power to all apartments by 10:00 pm tonight.

Thank you for your patience, this was a issue that was out of our control, unfortunately a transformer on the pseg pole blew out the power to the building, which caused the wires to melt. This requielred all new wires & disconnect. Have a wonderful night

requielred”? Oy!

wonderful night”? Yeah, right.

And no mention of the basement electrical panel?


Later that day…………my only shots of bucketman (click to enlarge):



Tuesday’s notices from the landlord:

We are currently waiting on PSE&G to return to reconnect permanent power to the building as well as your individual units. Unfortunately, PSE&G did not provide us with a time that this would be completed. Once permanent power is restored then PSE&G can reconnect the gas in order for your stove to work.

Permanent power has been restored by PSE&G and is no longer running on the generator. This means that PSE&G can now turn the gas back on for your stoves. We have been in contact with them to reconnect the gas for your apartments, however we suggest that you try to contact them as well.


So I called PSE&G and was told that a work order had been issued to be completed by 10pm. Sometime after 7pm, there was a knock on my door: a PSE&G gas guy, who told me the gas would be on before 8pm.

It was.

That last notice came in almost an hour after power was actually restored.


But this wasn’t a constant “no power and then power came on for good” situation. It was on and off 3 times on Monday and then TWENTY times on Tuesday!

I made notes on an envelope scrap about when power came on and off:

As you can see, it got a little crazy on Tuesday morning.


By Wednesday, I noticed that the only casualties in the freezer were 3 peach ice pops that had melted, separated into their components and re-frozen:


It might be dangerous (or yucky) to eat one of the components, so the old chemist re-melted them, stirred them all together and poured them into a container to be re-frozen………….

…………and then consumed while I caught up on “Curb Your John Oliver” on HBO On Demand.


Delicious! (the pops………not John Oliver, though he IS deliciously-funny).


So everything’s finally back to being peachy.




  1. E March 12, 2024

    I guess you are glad that’s over. Could’ve been worse.

  2. Kathleen Mc Knight March 12, 2024

    Jo-Ann filled me in on some of the details. You guys really have to get some serious action going against your landlord because this might not have been their fault,but there are many other issues that they are not taking care of in a proper Manner glad no one was hurt and no fire damage to your apartments.

  3. John OToole March 12, 2024


  4. Annemarie March 14, 2024

    Glad you didn’t suffer any damage!

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