Family Comes Home to Smoky Apartment, Leads to Neighbor Getting Evicted

Briana B.

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

What would you do if you came home to a smoke-filled apartment?

This was our reality a few days ago after returning home from a long day of school, errands, and appointments.

Upon entering, not only did we notice a strong burning odor, but it was extremely foggy. I immediately opened up all of the windows and my husband and I tried to investigate where the smoke could be coming from.

We never leave lights on, candles burning, or anything plugged in while we're out, and all of our appliances were turned off. We just couldn't understand what it could be.

My next thought was that our neighbor above us had burned dinner and that the smell and smoke were coming through the vents. I asked my husband to go upstairs and ask, but he didn't want to be intrusive.

After about an hour of the windows being opened, the smoke cleared. Since there was no evidence of a fire or anything to be concerned about, we closed the windows, went on with our night and started to get ready for bed.

As I am getting the kids ready for their baths, it starts to get really foggy, and you could see the smoke filling the air. I immediately tell my husband that something is wrong and that we should call the non-emergency number for the fire department.

After about ten minutes, three fire trucks show up, and a group of firefighters bangs on our door. We let them in, and they immediately validate our concerns that something isn't right.

The firefighters make their way through our apartment, checking closets and vents, and asking us a ton of questions. They asked if we had been burning any candles or incents, did our air filter need changed, and if we had access to our hot water tank.

They couldn't figure out where the smell or smoke was coming from. They told us that it wasn't an electrical issue and that the only conclusion they could draw was that our HVAC was overworking itself due to our air filter being so polluted.

By this time, all of our neighbors were outside wondering what was going on. The lady who lives above us said that her apartment was smoky all evening, so she opened her windows as well.

The firefighters used their positive pressure fan to clear out all of the smoke in our apartment. They advised us to change our air filter, and then they went on their way.

My husband and I decided to take the kids to a nearby hotel for the night just for extra safety.

The next morning when we returned, there was a note on our kitchen table that read:

"We figured out the problem. Your neighbor was burning a fire pit in his garage. All is well, your apartment is safe. Change your air filter and sleep well." --Fire Chief, 6a.m.

We had so many questions, such as:

How did the fire department get back in while we were at the hotel?

Why did they come back so early in the morning?

Why on earth would our neighbor burn a fire pit in his garage?

Come to find out, our neighbor had been secretly burning a fire pit out behind his apartment for a few days, but someone snapped a picture of him and turned it into the office. Instead of getting rid of his fire pit, he decided to burn it in his garage instead.

He ended up smoking up our entire block, but we were the only ones concerned enough to call the fire department.

Later on that evening, our neighbor went around to everyone apologizing for what he had done. He said he didn't mean any harm and that he had no idea his fire would get out of hand like that.

Apparently, his apology wasn't enough because management ended up evicting him that same day for violating the terms of his lease agreement, which included not burning a fire pit.

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