A week ago there was a fire in my apartment building, on the eighth story. There was a lot of smoke. The fire engines and ambulance came. I wasn’t home at the time, but heard about it from the neighbors later.

In piecing together the details from various sources, I learned the story. It seems an elderly man, who was well enough to smoke but not well enough to get out of bed, dropped his lit cigarette. This started a fire, and the poor soul, unable to do anything about it himself, died—almost certainly from smoke inhalation.

These buildings are made of cement slabs, which keeps fire from spreading as fast as it might. This time the quick action of the emergency crews contained the blaze pretty much to the one apartment. The result of apartment fires is often collateral water damage, which can extend even to the ground floor. Thankfully, my place, on the third floor, didn’t suffer at all. This time.

I went out to take pictures of the damage, but not much is visible. If you look carefully at the closeup photo, you can see black around the window edges, but that’s about all.

Fires caused by burning cigarettes are probably the most common here. These blazes often leave fatalities. In this latest case, the warning that smoking kills, written in large letters on cigarette packs sold here, proved prophetic.

Far worse than what happened here is a gas explosion, also not terribly rare, which usually destroys several apartments and kills a number of people. Another modern danger is the spraying of ceiling texture material as people remodel their places. Sometimes the tank explodes, also resulting in destruction and death.

Even as I write this, I’m smelling smoke. It seems that someone has burned something on the stove. After last week’s events, I’m a bit on edge. I wonder: is this really just overcooked soup, or is it going to turn into a major blaze?