Monday, March 09, 2009

left to burn

People amaze me with their stupidity sometimes. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes they do things that just completely amaze me, and not in a good way. Yesterday, I saw a fire truck and police cars outside of one of the buildings I help manage. Strange. I called the Rental Operations Manager and asked if there was anything I should know about at Willows. She told me to come up to the unit. When I arrived, I smelled smoke and I saw a charred mantle, a damaged portion of the wall, a burn hole in the carpet, and a pile of wax from the top of the mantle, to the hearth of the fireplace, to the carpet. It was clear that the guests left a candle burning when they left the unit for the day. Luckily, the guest in the unit next door smelled the smoke and alerted Keystone Emergency Services (KES). The smoke detector was going off, but the whole building alarm did not go off because the smoke never reached the hallway. The fire was put out quickly, but the fire department noted that the wall was very hot and if it had been buring much longer, the fire could have spread through the walls and the whole building could have potentially caught on fire. Yikes.

The sheriff got in touch with the guests, told them a burning candle had started a fire in their unit, and they needed to return to the condo immediately. When they arrived, they were a bit shaken up, but glad to see the damage was contained and that no one got hurt. We explained that we would need to secure a credit card number, since they did not put one on file upon check in. They seemed surprised that they would be responsible for the damage. They asked why the building's insurance wouldn't just cover it. The KES agent explained that insurance doesn't normally cover guests' negligence. "Negligence? It was just an accident. It was just a candle. What's negligent about leaving a candle burning? Isn't that what they're made to do? We leave candles unattended in our house all the time!" I was surprised to hear that they thought there was nothing wrong with leaving burning candles unattended.

Then came the shocker. One of the guys said, "I just can't believe it was a candle that caused this. Who would have thought? It just seems so crazy. I mean, our whole house burned down because we left candles lit. The couch caught on fire and the heat was so intense that it melted the structure of the house and the whole thing was totaled. We had to completely re-build. All because of a candle. And now, it happens again. I just can't believe it."

WHAT?!?!?!?!? Your HOUSE BURNED DOWN because of an unattended candle and you don't learn your lesson? Instead, you leave them burning in someone else's property and then justify that your actions weren't wrong because you "do it all the time at home"? What kind of logic is that? It took everything in me to remain professional as they stated that. I still can't believe it.

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