Friday, March 18, 2011

Scenes from a Fire

Just before 5 p.m. tonight, as most of us were getting ready to leave the office, we had a bit of a blip in power (I've since heard that the City of Toronto lost 1% of its power at the time and the same thing was going on as far as way as downtown Toronto).  The lights flickered and we all quickly saved the files we were working on on our computers.  A few minutes later, someone came by to say there was a big fire burning nearby and we all crowded in to one of the VP's offices in our fifth floor premises to have a look.

Here's what we could see:
In this shot, if you look closely, you can see the red of the flames (it kind of looks like that nuclear warning symbol, don't you think?):
Here's how it looked from the office parking lot as I walked to my car:
and from the highway as I drove by on my way home, the flames burning madly just on the other side of the grey cement fence you can see in the photo (I could see the plumes from several fire hoses pouring onto the flames as I drove slowly by):
Here's the view from outside my apartment building, which is only 10 minutes away from where I work, on the other side of the fire. 
And here's the smoke obscuring the view outside my apartment window, which faces the opposite direction from the fire:
It's a transformer station that is burning. Apparently there were a couple of explosions heard by neighbours in the area.  Highways in the area were shut down briefly due to worries about the thick, black smoke, not to mention the fact that everyone is slowing down to take a look, yours truly included.  TV reports suggest it is a four alarm blaze, with more than 30 trucks on the scene.  So far, no power outages in the area and planes continue to take off and land at the airport only 5 minutes away.  The latest reports suggest it is mineral oil that is burning and they're going to let it burn itself out, because there's no health hazard.  Really? All that black smoke being carried by 52 km winds isn't a problem to anyone? Hmm, where have I heard this before?  Oh wait, now they're evacuating an apartment building nearby (not mine) because of the smoke.  Sounds slightly hazardous to me!

Hopefully everyone involved in fighting this fire stays safe.  Two firefighters lost their lives earlier today in a small town near Toronto, so everyone is already saddened by that news.  As we all continue to watch anxiously as the devastatingly tragic situation in Japan unfolds, and worry about the threat of war in Libya, this fire so close to my home is just another alarming situation that makes me wonder if a life dependant on the consumption of toxic resources is really worth all the trouble.

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