Saturday, July 25, 2015


I was settling in for the night, right on schedule at 6:30, when I realized I had forgotten to buy salt for the potatoes I'm taking on the bike ride. I went down to the hotel lobby with a little baggie to see about getting some from the restaurant, and the two guys at the front desk looked shellshocked. "That's not good," one of them said. "Call the fire department NOW." I turned around and saw that the beautiful old brick building across the street was fully involved in a fire. Flames roared out the back of the upper levels, which I've assumed all week held apartments.

Stunned, I ran back up to my room. I've been thinking about fire all week. I've mentally mapped out the exit from my room so I could do it in the dark, I've worn PJs to bed every night in case I had to make a dash, kept my phone and wallet and keys right on hand. I never do these things. It's been very much on my mind. I watched with shock and horror as the fire department shut down Main Street, pushed spectators back, and began their first trips up the dark stairway to clear the building. It seemed an eternity before they got a stream of water on the flames. Smoke seeped out between the old bricks with increasing ferocity.

For the last two hours, the LPFD has been pouring water on the fire and on the four or five adjacent buildings. I have my bag packed in case we are made to leave. The buildings across the street house very small, locally owned shops and apartments. A Grateful Dead store, a toy store, a little gift shop.This small sweet, welcoming town has really grown on me, and its resources are stretched impossibly thin this weekend already.

Now so much smoke has gotten into our hotel that the alarms are going off and I'm being told to get out.

OK, well, see you on the race course.

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