Friday, January 22, 2010

Engine Company No. 5

This is Central Station on Congress Street. I've told you before that growing up, if it was a 'big one' Dad was off chasing the firetrucks. I remember a Friday night. I was sitting on my bed and seemingly all of a sudden there was an explosion of orange/yellow light on my back wall; almost simultaneously the fire horn atop the station on Arbor Srreet around the corner was blaring and signaling a general alarm already. I jumped off my bed and headed to my window facing Stevens. As soon as I got there, I could already feel heat on my face, the smell of tarred timbers afire and see large ashes floating skyward. It was the old, deserted warehouse over on Forest, directly across from our house, a street away. Around our house, we'd been waiting for this place to 'go up'. As they say, it was fully engaged. Before I raced off into the darkness to find my friends and get as close as we could, I took a step back and Mom and Dad hands were on my shoulders half lending comfort, half just trying to get a better view as to just was up a street away. It was eerie, but when I looked back over my shoulder, I saw the fire's reflection across their faces. The scarcest thing was the the triple-decker just to the left of the warehouse. When I finally got in front of it, there were the third floor tenants still on the back porch screaming. That night still holds one of the most frightening images of my lifetime.


  1. Marchin O'NeachtainJanuary 22, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    I watched this from our front lawn on Stevens Ave and the thing that really caught my eye was not the General Alarm fire across the street, rather Mom grabbed the garden hose, hooked it up to the outside faucet and was spraying water on the front of our house to prepare for the sailing embers. She was always thinking ahead.

  2. The first station is so big it almost could be an armory too.

  3. What a traumatic experience to have etched in your mind.

    It doesn't surprise me that Portland has such a large first station . . . didn't most of Portland burn down a long time ago?

  4. Probably not the best image to be examining closely right now, Bman. But you always spin a riveting tale for us.