What Happened? Last night around midnight, we heard a crash…might have been more like a bang. I thought it sounded like a bucket of junk falling off a shelf. When we looked outside to see what the sound was, we saw a car on fire across the street. I immediately called 911 and reported it. I had a fire extinguisher, but they kindly urged me not to use it. Not sure if I would have if they hadn’t. At that point, the fire was pretty small by comparison to the video, so I’m not totally insane.
When we first saw the car, the fire was only ON the top of the back of the car, which is what leads me to believe that the fire came from the outside, and that the bang was the impact of the molotov cocktail. Within a few minutes, the flame from the outside of the car had penetrated the gasoline tank, and gas was pouring onto the ground forming a flaming puddle. I believe the large explosion seen in the video is the gas tank getting hot enough to explode. This in turn led to the power lines melting and falling in a dramatic fashion onto the nearby Honda.
After about another two minutes, the fire department arrived and quickly put out the fire. It was fortunate that they arrived when they did because there is a large tree over the car that could have easily spread the fire to the neighboring buildings.
After another hour or so, the fire was out in both cars (it spread to the one next to it), and the electrical wire was neutralized. The news team came, but I didn’t want to do an interview. Nevertheless though, I did give them my movie, and they tell me it aired on the 5-9 morning news.
Thoughts I’ve been living here for about 4 years now. The hood has some issues which I’ve put some effort into trying to fix. Since living here, I’ve seen a guy chase another with a knife, I’ve cleaned up about 6 hypodermic needles, I learned of a bullet hole in a neighbor’s window, and I’ve heard from my window a murder from about a block and a half away. Now I can add molotov cocktail to the list.
Some of these things I know about only because I’m involved in the neighborhood, and I can chalk up to things that most people would be blissfully ignorant of. Others, like the arson and the knife chase are hard to ignore.
I like living in Berkeley, and I like my living situation - good roommates, affordable rent, a nice house - but it’s times like today when I have to reflect on why I am living across the street from a drug dealer, and if it’s really safe and practical for me and for others. My usual policy is to mind my own business, and they’ll leave me alone, which is quite true, but still, exploding cars are hard to ignore.
For years I have been telling friends that it’s safe to come here, that their car will be OK, and not to worry, that I have been fine for years. I’m still fine, but I think it might be a harder sale these days. I just hope things get better, not worse.
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