Fire in Montmartre
June 18, 2014
There's some funny things that you don't realize about Paris until you had lived here for a few months. Or more, until you see these phenomenons and they suddenly strike you as strange. I saw a fly the other day and actually found myself kind of intrigued about the fact that there are not really insects...at all...in the city. I prefer not to dive into the reasoning behind that because, coming from Canada (the great land of the wild outdoors), I probably don't want to admit that I live in an urban oasis far removed from nature. But hey, it beats the cockroaches in New York that my twin sister deals with. And I digress…
So the other things you don't see, ever, in Paris are fires. This I know the answer too and am cool with it. Rather than having homes and apartments made with wood frames like in North America, most apartment buildings are made with cement frames. Think of every apartment as its own private firewall. So when I woke us this morning in Montmartre to see my view of Paris blanketed by billowing black smoke I found myself curious.
Brace yourselves Paris, an arson is on the loose...a scooter arson. Looking down I could see in plain view a motorcycle completely engulfed in flames with a few bystanders watching. It was quite an impressive site to see, with an oil stream of fire pouring down the hill and a mini explosion.
This went on for a number of minutes, and just when I began to wonder if anyone was going to call the fire department, I saw them. The saviors of the day: one fireman and one forewoman approaching along the cobblestone streets of Montmartre. Clearly this fire was being treated as Red Alert. The firewoman was wearing absolutely no fire gear and appeared to be on her smartphone. The fireman on the other hand was in full gear including a helmet that closely resembled that of maybe the first scuba diver, minus the face protection. So if the motorcycle explodes he's screwed but should someone's potted balcony plant fall on him, a-ok.
Maybe the best part was the fact that the tool brought to put out the fire was what appeared to be a slightly larger version of a household fire extinguisher…not that it worked. I now watched intrigued as the fireman started banging on the extinguisher. I guess it came with a secret handshake.
Just when I thought all was lost, the reinforcements came. A mini-fire truck with 4 other fireman wearing the same retro helmets. Naturally though, just as it arrives, the original firefighter got his fire extinguisher up and running and gets the blaze under control. The narrow Montmartre street is now blocked by a new third fire truck and now a garbage truck has rolled into the mix. They will now discuss together the priorities of fire over garbage removal.
With the neighborhood at a calm again, minus the smell, I descend for my day. The owner of the motorcycle (with his chic motorcycle girlfriend) are now assessing the scene with the police and have even asked my boyfriend to be a witness in the case. I'll be sure to also summit this recount of the situation for evidence...