Most of the riding on my bike commutes is uneventful. Fun, to be sure, but mundane. Still I try to keep my eye open for the unusual and, more often than not, I am rewarded for my vigilance. Today was one of those "rewarding" days.
On the way into work, about a mile from home, I stopped for a red light and spotted this notice attached to a telephone pole next to the road. Missing. A cognitively disabled girl had walked out of her group home and vanished. All the way in I thought of stories behind the poster. Did she leave with someone? To find someone? To get away from someone? Is she alive? Did she stick her thumb out and catch a random ride to some faraway place? Or is she just wandering around the neighborhood?
There is another odd thing about the picture. Look at how many staples and tacks are in the telephone pile. This pole is the poor man's Craigslist of our neighborhood!
Despite the fact that it was a Friday in the summer in DC, I lingered at work until 5:30. I check weather.com at 4 and it was 104 degrees outside. I figured it was best to wait the heat out. Good thing I waited; it was a brisk 99 degrees when I left. After 9 miles of riding I was soaked in sweat and about to cross the line from Alexandria City and Fairfax County on the Mount Vernon Trail. At just about this time, two Alexandria City fire trucks went screaming past on the adjacent Parkway headed toward Mount Vernon in Fairfax County. For the next 10 minutes I wondered what was so serious that Fairfax had to borrow equipment from Alexandria. When I was two miles from home I found out why.
A two-story house on Ridgecrest Drive about a block west of the Mount Vernon Trail had caught fire. Fire trucks and ambulances were all over the place. A hose filled with water snaked down the street. The house was set back from the road and sat on its lot at an angle to the street. I could see smoke coming from the house and a ladder leading to an upstairs window.
I overheard some neighbors talking. They said no one was hurt. Off to the side EMTs were getting a woman ready for transport. She was sitting up on the gurney and didn't seem to be in discomfort. I felt for the firefighters who were just melting in the heat. I suppose it's better than fighting fires when it is so cold they end up covered in ice.
I continued on to home wondering what happened here. A fire in the middle of the day is rare. Was the fire upstairs? Short of falling asleep with a lit cigarette, I can't think of many things on the second floor of my house that could cause a fire.
It's good to be home in my group house. No fires. No lost loved ones.