Fire in the sky

One of my least-favorite recurring nightmares is the one where I’m stuck on the expressway and suddenly I see a mushroom cloud envelop the Chicago skyline. I blame years of reading apocalyptic literature and watching end-of-the-world movies. I blame this season of “24,” for that matter.

I was stuck in traffic tonight because of a giant cloud of smoke which overtook the otherwise perfectly-clear sky. It wasn’t a casual trail of grey plumage–this was a “holy crap, what on earth is that all about, and am I safe?” sort of thing.

Turns out, it was from a 4-11 blaze at a building on Knox near Montrose which housed a business called Chicago Imports, Inc. I don’t know much more, other than it’s been dubbed a Level 1 Hazmat situation (and no, I don’t know what that means).

What was most interesting was that I saw the blaze at 5:15, when I first got in my car. The news reports I’ve read so far said that firefighters were called at 5:30. What happened in that quarter hour? I was nowhere near the scene–maybe six miles away–and the blaze couldn’t be missed. What of the people in the immediate vicinity? No one picked up a phone for 15 minutes?

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