The Meter Explodes: Smoke Fills the Boutique!
Just yesterday, a washing machine almost put the Patrice Bréal boutique on a diet. During the height of the post-Christmas sales season, the clothing shop in Poitiers was hit by a small catastrophe.
It was 2:50pm when the fire department was alerted. The fire started in the closet situated at the back of the store. A few seconds later, the electric meter exploded, spreading fire and panic throughout the shop.
As the smoke spread, the two sales assistants were forced to evacuate the store. The apartments above the shop, as well as neighboring stores, were also evacuated. The firemen, after putting out the fire, checked the nearby apartments for smoke damage and carbon monoxide levels. Using a thermal camera, they were able to ensure that no hot spots remained. A few hours later, the mayor stopped by the scene.
translated from La Nouvelle Republique page 4 article, published Samedi 17, Janvier 2009
Okay, now here's how it happened from our perspective.
Jefe had gone out for a long bike ride. Rebecca was a home, writing. She heard the doorbell ring, but since this happens by accident every once in a while (drunk people, kids, confused delivery men), she didn't take it very seriously. A few minutes later, the bell rang again, more insistently. She opened the French windows to look down to the street, to see who was bothering her. No delivery man, no drunks, no kids. But something did seem amiss... Usually, when we look out our window, we feel a bit like voyeurs. People walk past on the pedestrian street below, not noticing us and not looking up. This time, people were looking up.
Rebecca mused over this as she shut the windows and sat down again at the computer. A moment later, the electricity in the apartment went out all at once. She slipped on her shoes, pushed open the door to the stairwell, and was greeted with a lot of smoke and the smell of burning plastic, which grew thicker as she ran down the stairs. At the base of the stairs it was very hot, and she looked down to see the door of the utility closet glowing orange. When she made it out of the ground level door and into the street, women in the adjacent shoe store were vigorously motioning to her. She walked up to them, confused, and they turned her around and pointed to the fire.
She spent a nervous hour waiting for the fire department to arrive, put out the fire, and rid the apartment building of smoke. Thankfully, there was no permanent damage to the apartment or its residents (aside from a little smoke damage to the level below us)!
In the mean time, don't worry about us. We're on vacation.