I worked for two years in San Francisco as a stringer for a News Agency from Spain. A friend of mine let me stay at her family house for a while. One day I was working in my laptop and I noticed that the lights began to behave strangely.
The lamps went too bright and then too dark and I began to smell like if something was burning. But we couldn’t see any fire. My friend, pretty shaken, called 911 and told me: Hurry, unplug all the computers and home appliances and to run off the house. I didn’t have enough time to go thru the kitchen when I was already hearing the sirens of the firefighters trucks arriving at full speed.
We all got out of the house while the firefighters began to search for the fire. By then the lights were completely off. It was an electric fire that exploded in several plugs and switches on walls causing small damages, but ruining the computers I wasn’t able to unplug.
They found the source of the fire (a short-circuit in the wiring that supplied electricity to the entire house) and they made a temporary fix until the guy from the electricity company came (very quickly) and he repaired the wires.
I was the journalist at home so I made the pictures of the damages to send them to the insurance. Then I understood why my friend was so scared from the beginning of the incident: The structure of the house was wooden! We could have burned like a box of matches!
The culprit of the fire was the electric company, because of lack of maintenance of the wires, and they paid for all the damages. In one month I could buy a brand new laptop I desperately needed for my job.
Several days after the fire, we were dinning and suddenly everything began to move. Silence. I grabbed the table. I forgot all the rules and instructions about what to do in case of an earthquake.
I simply looked fixedly at the eyes to my friend like asking her: is this normal? and waited while I was shaken by a force too big to describe. things began to fall around, the dishes were rattling… I don’t know how long it was… ¿seconds? but for me were like hours. And it was “nothing” only a 5.6 degree in the Richter scale.
(the picture is from 1999)