We went inside a neighbor’s apartment to wait for the fire rescuers to extinguish the fire. Brian realized that he had inhaled far too much smoke while trying to help put out the fire – he had a severe asthma attack. A neighbor escorted him to an ambulance for treatment where our puppy was also receiving treatment for smoke inhalation. I called my friend Karen to get her help. The wonderful people who let us into their apartment offered comfort in the form of clothing for my daughter – who was in nothing but a diaper as she had been awaiting bath time – as well as snacks for my son and blankets for all of us. I found out that Brian needed medical assistance at the hospital and retrieved the puppy. Of course, the EMTs neglected to tell me which hospital they were taking him to. Once Karen arrived, we took the kids to find out where Brian went and to follow him. We were stopped by a reporter and the front office staff. American Red Cross collected all the residents of the building – who, by the way, were NOT mostly students as some incorrect sources might have you believe – to fill out paperwork and receive assistance and lodging. Rob’s idea of clearing the tension was farting loudly in front of everyone. I heard someone say, “at least he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.” Once I finished getting the paperwork done with Laura Mager of the Red Cross, Karen brought us to the Shands at UF emergency room. As usual, the ER was packed, the staff was rude sans for one shining gem named Jay, and Brian was absolutely frustrated at his situation. Apparently, he had two people attempt to start IV fluids – a fire fighter and an EMT. The first try Brian’s veins were blown, the second was not much better. He discharged himself against medical advice for two reasons: one, he felt he was needed with his family; two, he couldn’t tolerate the inconsiderate staff any longer. Of course, Shands at UF’s ER deserves their own special topic for a later date.
Karen drove us to the Days Inn on
By the end of the day on Friday, we learned what caused the fire. Early investigations found that someone had dropped rose petals and lit candles. Whoever did so left our next-door neighboring apartment. They had two cats, who more than likely knocked over a candle – or more. The poor cats didn’t survive. All of this stress could have been avoided if a little commonsense had been exercised. Sadly, my neighbors learned their lesson by losing everything and their two cats. I hear some people may want to sue them, but I know I could not possibly be involved in such a pursuit. While I have been inconvenienced and will be losing pay, I have my family and belongings. They lost everything. As for myself, I’m certain I’m suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I never wish to witness such a disaster again. The image of the burning apartment will forever ingrain itself into my mind.