Great balls of fire!

The day started typically. Woke up, fed the cats, shower, dress, grab my stuff and off to work.

I’m not always so timely in the morning, so I end up driving to work a lot. However, I got a decent start this morning, so I took the El.

Work was fine. No great emergencies. No huge jobs. Just another typical day at the grind.

The commute home, though, was another story.

To preface this, a few months ago, there was a major house fire along the tracks of the El that caused a bad disruption of service. The house was right along the Brown Line tracks (I take the Red Line) so they had to cut power to the tracks in order to protect the electrical systems and the tracks themselves. Plus, the fire was so close to the tracks that it wasn’t safe to run any trains past the fire.

The house stood in ruin from then until now. They never boarded it up, and never tore it down. Quite frankly, it was a bit creepy. You could also see that the fire had spread to the adjoining houses. I’m not sure if they were occupied anymore or not. It appeared to have done quite a bit of damage.

So today, I’m listening to a CD, cranked up pretty loud, mainly to drown out the chattering kids behind me and just to lose myself in music and catch a little snooze before I got home.

As we neared the Diversey Brown Line stop, the train suddenly slowed down, and the lights went out. This wasn’t unusual. It happens every now and then, and then the power kicks back in and we keep going. No big deal.

Until I saw everyone getting up and plastering themselves against the window.

The burned-out house came into view. It was engulfed in flames. Again.

I have never seen anything so spectacular. It was just immense. They were shooting out of the roof, the windows and doors. It looked like it was out of control.

You could feel the heat. It was intense.

The train kept slowing down. Apparently the power was cut, and the conductor certainly didn’t want to hit the brakes, for fear that the train would stop right in front of the massive blaze.

The train finally stopped about 500 feet or so from the fire. We were safe, but we were stranded.

I was in the last car, so I could see everything. Within seconds of our passing the fire, the entire roof was engulfed. They were shooting up so high I couldn’t believe it. I had to imagine that it was spreading to the houses next door by now.

Judging from the fact that I wasn’t hearing any sirens, it seemed to me that this had just happened.

About 5-10 minutes later, the sirens started. They came in droves. And we were stuck, witnessing the entire event.

Now mind you, at this point, people were more interested in the fire than anything else. Everyone tried to get a good look. Cell phones were in use left and right. People cancelling dinner plans, calling friends, calling family. I called my mom and dad, and a couple friends. It definitely kept things lively for a while.

But eventually the interest died down.

And it started to get hot in the train.

With no power, there was no A/C. And the train was about 3/4 full. And it was a muggy, warm day outside. It quickly got very stuffy and uncomfortable.

The kids who were sitting behind me started to get restless, but bless their hearts, they never cried and never got upset. Their parents kept them busy and played with them. Thank God.

However, one irritable queen stormed through the car and up to the call button and summoned the conductor.

“EXCUSE ME!” he shrieked.

“Yes, sir”

“Could you at least unlock the windows in here?” (s)he was not having this.

“Sorry sir, we were keeping them closed to keep out the smoke” (In truth, we were far enough away that this wouldn’t have been an issue.)

“Well we don’t care. We are hot and we want them open. NOW!”

“OK, I’ll send someone to unlock them, sir.”

As he made his way back up the car, I heard him mumble something to the effect of “Dumb fat bitch.” Some queens just can’t control themselves in heat.

It took an HOUR for the firefighters to get the fire under control. By then the CTA conductor and the staff member who boarded the train to help out had opened the windows and all the end doors in the train. It cooled off, and even the irritable queen was smiling and relaxed. We knew we would get out of this eventually.

Finally, 1 hour and 30 minutes later, we started moving again.

So that was my adventure. As of now, there is nothing in the news about it. If something should come up tomorrow, I’ll add it to this post. But sorry, no pictures.

But all the while, I thought to myself, “Great, something to blog about!” 🙂