By Mark David Blum, Esq.
You would think I could go away for a business trip without major calamity. Alas, but we are talking about “me” and thus with each travel, there is got to be something to write about. “Life” is just not that boring when compared with fiction.
I have an all day seminar tomorrow here in the State Capital that starts at 8:00 in the morning. Rather than leave Manlius at 5:00 tomorrow morning, I drove up today and grabbed a room. Nice room it is and it is in the hotel where the conference is being held. That way I can read all day today and tonight and wake up refreshed an hour before I have to be there.
So I got my usual non-smoking room since I cant stand the stench of smoking rooms. After unpacking, I was able to get the window open to the fresh air of the 14th floor of this high rise hotel with an eye view of the Capitol. The nice thing about an open window is there are little if any traces left of any smoking, should such a thing occur. (Not that I would ever do such a thing).
So there I am engrossed in the most miserable of appellate records of a zoning case when I start to smell burning rubber and plastic. Looking outside my window, I can see smoke billowing out of the roof of the lobby below. No fire alarm sounded but there was a rapid exit of all personnel I had seen milling about downstairs earlier while I was basking in the spa. Now everybody is standing outside and safe from the flames … everybody except me.
At least six fire trucks are camped outside while they hunt the source and kill the flame. I left the room and found all the firedoors closed, the elevators not operational, and unless I want to walk down 14 flights of stairs for no damn good reason, I am pretty much a prisoner in my own room. It is cool though because I have a bird’s eye view of the massive fire operation below. The firefighters seem to be winning as the stench and smoke have dwindled to nothingness.
Now they are doing the famous firefighter stand around and talk about it dance. With the fire out, nobody is moving and nothing is happening to free up the hotel. I am sure they wont be here a moment longer than necessary, but common guys, at least turn on the elevators.
Hopefully there is no major damage downstairs and everybody got out OK. I would hate to think I am here having fun at the hotel’s expense when there is real pain and harm being felt elsewhere. I can only hope the fire was local in nature and caused by stupidity. Two firefighters are walking around and checking the air quality with some kind of hand held gizmos.
My clothes and my room are bedeviled with the stench of burning plastic and rubber. I am trapped here and cannot escape but to walk down an eternity of stairs. It is not my intention to re-enact some stupid scene from a 1970’s disaster film. Until the fire alarm sounds, I am staying right here and counting the minutes.
There is across the street an old old Catholic Church which kindly opened its doors to the wandering lost outside. I found out later that indeed there was a fire alarm but I guess you cant hear it down here at the end of the hallway. Folks from the street recalled seeing me peering out the window and thought I was a news cameraperson, That was not a news camera in my hands, is fer sher.
In the end the fire was started by a work crew on the roof and was confined to the air duct from which all that smoke was billowing. No sign of the fire is anywhere in the hotel except for a wet spot on the ceiling where water is leaking through. The front desk is so backed up with a Baptist Convention and a Gospel National Convention, that they may not see daylight until sunrise.
With the fire out, life is returning to normal and it is off to the spa to boil for an hour before bedtime.