While a bunch of us were hanging around in our across-the-hall neighbor's flat, we noticed some of the light bulbs in the ceiling start flickering.
So I get up to disassemble one of the lamps to tighten the bulbs. While I'm doing this, one of the other people who were still sitting in the living room (facing the street) remarked that it smelled a bit like burning plastic or rubber.
Three minutes later, a couple of firetrucks come a-whooping down the curve and squeal to a stop in front of our building. These are followed by a few more.
Ohhhkay....says I as I start heading out the hallway to grab a coat (just in case). I'm already getting nervous because this is a brick-shell building but the inside is all wooden lath & plaster and floors made out of wooden planks.
A squad of firemen traipse in, in all their regalia, and start looking for "where the power comes in" so I take them to the super's apartment in the basement.
Out walks this frazzled Polish guy with a cigarette dangling from his fingers...wha-happened? So they ask him to show them where the power to the building enters -- he takes them to the meter room. Nothing seemed to be wrong
Then explain that they had gotten calls about lights flickering all over the bulding so they wanted to see if everything was good in the building.
Turns out it was actually a fire in the transformer vault on the corner (in Manhattan, all wiring is underground, by law). The crew took care of that
When we went out for a walk (more of a slosh)we could still smell the acrid stench of burning insulation.
My guess is water probably leaked down the manhole into the vault.
We had a good laugh about it later. But it's still frightening, especially when you live in a building that's essentially a pile of firewood inside a brick box.....
Oh, by the way....the bulbs were
loose in my friend's ceiling fixtures.
[This message has been edited by SvenNYC (edited 12-08-2003).]