The Story Behind the Story of the Fire in My Apartment Building
By Adam Ward – March 18, 2018
I've shied away from doing any kind of media/news appearance regarding this as it's a belief of mine to do good things for the sake of doing them which I said to my manager Chelsea when checking in with my work. She had swayed my opinion though, by saying that this could give somebody else possible courage or clarity they didn't think they had when dealing with an emergency.
Now I'm trying to recount this as best as I can while sitting in the basement of my girlfriends house, wearing my second hand wardrobe I got from Talize for $10, and my brothers used socks he had donated us. It's still a little hazy in parts but here it is:
It was 12:30a when the fire alarms starting going off. Sasha and I worked at 5am the next morning and were already in a deep sleep as we're usually in bed by 10a. She was the first to wake, and nudged me to get up.
"I think it's an actual fire."
As I came to my senses my first idea was to go the our front door which led to our 3rd building hall way. When I opened the door, thick smoke started to slowly make it way in. I couldn't see more than half an arm's length into the hallway, and closed the door immediately.
I ran to the washroom grabbing two wash clothes, threw them in the sink soaking them, and ran them back to Sasha telling her to put it over her mouth. "We're trapped."
Sasha ran into our spare room and grabbed the cat crate and put Tilly in. Our bigger of our cats was on the bed already and easy to find. DoeDoe, on 2nd feline, was hiding under the couch.
When Sasha grabbed her, DoeDoe had begun fighting against going into the crate. The both of us grabbed her and eased her in, while reassuring them.
I was telling Sasha she was doing a really good job throughout, and that was she was great as we raced around the our closed bedroom.
Sasha's sister who was standing outside the building had called on our cell. She was hysterical and crying when we answered. "Get Out!" .... "We're trapped." We hung up the phone as we banged on the window, trying to get attention from the street traffic.
At this point I began thinking that if we tried running out of the smoke filled hallway/stairway, we could either collapse from the smoke right there or inadvertently run directly into the fire itself. My fear was to be in a future where breaking a window could have saved us bodily harm.
"We need to get through the window."
Sasha started to kick the tiny screen that was below the bigger of 2 windows in our bedroom. I ran to the kitchen. This was my first remembrance that there was a fire extinguisher. See it as a blunt object first, and something to extinguish a possible fire second, I grabbed it and brought it to the room.
"Stand back, get out of the way." I two hand smashed the butt hand of the extinguisher through the window. I was initially afraid that it wouldn't break, to my surprise, it went through like butter. I bashed the remaining shards so as to not cut our bodies, and had cut both of my hands in doing it. I grabbed my thickest sweater I owned that was nearby, and placed it over the window base so we wouldn't cut out stomachs.
My next consideration was throwing out the mattress from the window before lowering my girlfriend as close to the ground and on to the mattress before jumping myself.
Sasha noticed that my hands were bleeding all over the apartments floor. "You're bleeding really bad"
"You need to focus, I need you to focus, we'll fix that later."
Luckily as we were talking a firemen had popped up through the window.
"One of you needs to come with me right now"
"You go" Sasha said.
"You HAVE to go, I said. I'll be okay" I said
I helped her stand up on the window sill while holding her hips as she started to put one leg out of our 3rd floor onto a ladder.
"I love you"
"I love you"
With her hanging out the window and me inside the smokey bedroom we kissed our potential last kiss.
Sasha went down the ladder maybe 5 rungs before looking back up and noticing that she was starting to panic I popped my head out the window and assured her again. "You're doing really REALLY great you have to keep going. You got this."
When I saw she was closer to the pavement, I grabbed a knapsack that was nearby and grabbed everything that had belonged to my late father who passed last year. A picture frame of personal photos that he had kept by his bed side, the cross from his funeral, and a framed quote of my grandfather. I stuck them in my checkered knapsack and slung it over my shoulder, as the firemen had come back.
"You need to take the cats."
"You have to! Listen, I'm calm and doing really well. Either you take these cats or I can't leave."
The fireman reluctantly agreed as I placed the now covered in my blood crate on the window, grabbed his hand as his gloves were too thick to make it around the crates handle unguided, and helped him finally get a firm hold of the cats.
"This cat weighs a ton!"
"Yeah, now you've met Tilly" I joked trying to stay calm with humor.
In hindsight as I write this, I realize that to put a cat before your own life might seem stupid or silly to some and I might have even agreed with you before owning 2, but those cats are an extension of Sasha, and if she lost either of them it would have been like losing a limb. I love those cats, but I was protecting her.
As the fireman was climbing down I straddled myself over the window frame sitting on my sweater.
Our bedroom door smashed open, 3 firemen entered and I must have been getting lightheaded, because my initial thought was "What are you doing guys... you're letting the smoke in..."
They ran to where I was and held me tight as I made my way down the ladder. The initial firemen had been going slow. "I'm still very calm and can go a lot faster but you're slowing me down"
"You can go faster?"
Together, him behind me, we ran down the ladder. I hit the pavement and ran to the street to where everybody was.
She was crying and we embraced.
Her being a huge fan of the show This Is Us, and I being a huge fan of slow cookers and being an owner of 3, I remembered her earlier concerns...
"... I told you the slow cookers weren't going to be the things to burn down the apartment." I said with a smile.
And that's how we got out of the building fire that was set up by our 2 superintendents.
And that was it. We are looking for a place to live currently and are going back to what's left of the apartment today to salvage what we can. A lot of people have asked us how to help in any way possible and my Uncle Robert had set up a funding page that can be found below. Any bit will help us bounce back from this and we really appreciate everything that everything has already done to keep us happy and loved.