October 21, 2009

Beijing Blazing

My first Monday in Beijing I came home from work. My landlord was there. I told him I had nothing to do for the rest of the day. He told me that it was the last day of the Lantern Festival, so I should visit a park to see what it was all about. I ventured outside, took several buses, and got thoroughly lost. Fireworks were exploding left, right, and centre throughout the city. It was the last day of the Spring Festival, so everyone had to use up their fireworks before the citywide ban was back in place. After watching the light show for a while, I looked around and saw what appeared to be a gigantic chimney with smoke coming out from the top. I had heard rumours of giant smokestacks that provided heating to all the homes in Beijing so I walked toward it.

Source: Gizmodo

When I got near, I realized that it was a skyscraper on fire. There were sparks at the top, and the flames were slowly making their way down the floors. I watched in awe as the fire slowly spread, before suddenly erupting into a massive inferno. As the flames engulfed the building, ash and small pieces of debris began to rain down. The sky turned black, the smoke blocking out the stars and the moon.

Source: BD Online

I backed away with the rest of the crowd that had gathered to gawk at the fiery sight. The fire reflected of the glossy exteriors of the surrounding office towers, giving the illusion that the whole area was ablaze. The eerie spectacle drew a crowd of thousands. The onlookers were intent on breaking the Guinness World Record for most camera phones used simultaneously in one place. Even passengers on buses driving by quickly flipped open their handsets to snap a few pictures of the destruction. My camera had ran out of batteries, so I remained an eyewitness before returning to the safety of my apartment. The inside of my ears were filled with soot and my forehead had turned black.


"Fire and people do in this agree, they both good servants,
both ill masters be."
- Fulke Greville