A/N: This story is dedicated to my niece B, who has been a fan of E! since the day her mother brought home the first season on DVD. One day while watching a fire truck and ambulance race by, lights flashing and sirens blaring, her observation was simply “unknown type rescue”! Happy 13th birthday, B!!
The Building smouldered in the brilliant mid-day sunshine of the early January day. Although part of its red brick facade remained standing, the interior was completely gutted, charred timbers and blackened window frames a sure sign of the devastation. Streams of water were still pouring into the structure, from crews on the ground and others above in aerial baskets. Hot spots still flared; the fire in the Building had been fierce, and seemed unwilling to yield to the firefighters' efforts. For the remainder of the day, as life in the city carried on around it, the Building slowly, painfully died.
Situated on a busy corner in the old downtown core, the Building was more than one hundred and twenty-five years old. Made of red brick, three stories high, it had a distinctive corner tower and round arched windows that presided over the intersection. Originally constructed by a baker as a place to make and sell his products, during its long life span the Building had also been a hotel, served as home for undertakers and baby-carriage makers, and in its last, most recent identity, had been a popular and successful Thai restaurant.
But the Building had fallen upon hard times. Eight months ago, part of its facade had collapsed, sending crumbled brick to the sidewalk below; the restauranteurs were required to evacuate as the Building was declared structurally unsound. The owners, however, were unfazed, and when two months later the Building was designated a Heritage Site, they began to assemble a complete restoration plan to present to the city.
In the meantime, though, the Building continued to decay. All utilities were cut off, leaving it dark and uninviting both inside and out. A security fence surrounded the perimeter, to protect passers-by from falling bricks; despite this, however, vandalism became a serious problem, and vagrants were known to occupy the Building at times. Local politicians and neighbouring business owners lamented the slow progress towards the restoration, to no avail. A Heritage designation protected the Building from demolition for re-development, but did little to speed the process of rehabilitation, or provide any funding for that work to take place.
And so the Building just languished... until the morning that it burned, and died, and nearly took the lives of two firefighters with it.