Tuesday 6 October 2009 8.31am
A bit of an exiting start to the day here. (Which is unusual at my age.) I was driving my future son-in-law to the station for the 7.15 train and in the distance we could see a pall of black smoke. As we got closer we could see a bright orange glow. As we drove past the 'HARP' hostel for the homeless we could see flames about two thirds the height of the building at the rear. I told Dave to dial 999 even though it had probably already been reported. The emergency operator said that it hadn't, which was surprising. On the way back, (about four minutes later,) there were about a dozen people standing around outside the building. I stopped and wound my window down and told the nearest bloke that the brigade had been notified and wondered if anyone else had also reported the fire. He shrugged his shoulders and said to a few people standing around him, 'Anyone phoned the brigade?' They all then looked at each other and one by one shook their heads. I then asked if anyone had alerted the residents in the road behind, as the fire was spreading. I got the same response. I sped off and as I did so I could hear sirens and knew the brigade were approaching. I drove round in to the road at the back of the hostel and knocked on a few doors. I was amazed that no one had been woken by the now horrendously loud crackling from the fire, or those who were up hadn't realised what was going on. You're never too old to learn and, not for the first time in my life, I leaned this morning that it's better to be safe than sorry. I might have been the tenth person to report that fire and the emergency services might have been getting fed up with it. But I wasn't. Everone else assumed that someone else had made the call.