“Never know when you’ll need it,” J said, slipping his little point-and-shoot into its soft, grey case.
“Indeed,” I replied, and we headed out into the frigid morning to run some errands and check up on Gabe. My plan was to stop at home first, then head over a couple blocks to Grandview Avenue to drop off some packages at the Post Office and maybe pick up a few things at the G-Eagle.
Mias non. It was not to be.
As I drove up Third, desperately trying to warm my fingers in front of the weezing heat vents, something caught my eye: an abnormally large and burgeoning cloud of thick, black smoke rising up from precisely the location I was headed.
My first thought? “Holy shite, we’ve finally burned down our house.”
Granted, there are quite a few houses in the area, and for me to think it was mine was a little silly. And, as I drove on, I came to my street and the source of the smoke was still further west. It had to be something on Grandview Avenue. Something big.
I jaunted over a couple blocks, because I could see that Third was blocked off ahead. I was able to take little Ida Ave. all the way in, parked next to the bank, and, from there, could’ve sworn it was the large church, St. Christopher’s, that had smoke pouring out of the roof. Jumping out of the car and moving along Grandview, though, I soon saw this was not the case.
As I came to the corner, where others were starting to gather, four ladder trucks came into view, all their ladders extended high into the air, hoses directed straight down into an inferno that had engulfed the entire second story of nearly a whole block of storefronts. Obscured by firetrucks and roped off from view was Z Cucina, the restaurant where I worked over the summer. I was sure it had to be gone as well, or at least in the process of being swallowed whole by smoke and flames.
J whipped out the camera (such strange prophecy that line turned out to be…), and fired off as many shots as he could before his fingers went painfully numb. (The temperature read 14 degrees when we got back to the car). The juxtaposition of fire and ice was both devastating and stunning to watch.
I’ve spoken with one of the owners of The Candle Lab (the fire is said to have started with an explosion on the second floor right over her shop). She says her stock is in pretty good shape, but the location itself was ruined due to smoke and water damage. She hopes to remain in Grandview, but may have to wait the year it takes to knock the entire block down and rebuild.
The singular bright moment in all this: J and I went back later in the evening, and were able to walk down the entire street, as I walked past the back of a firetruck, my heart jumped – Z was still standing, and, in fact, looked untouched and as if it could open for dinner service if it wanted to. There’s a hallway in between the restaurant and the rest of the stores on the block, and it seems this acted as a barrier to the fire. I’m so down for some duck legs when they’re ready to reopen!
Sadly, the avenue, which had been such a beautiful little stretch of dining and shopping so close to home, will have to sustain this gap for some time. I just hope all those who lost businesses and offices in the fire are able to bounce back soon. I’ll be keeping an eye out for you guys. Hang in there.