Monday, December 11, 2006

Long Beach Fire: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction

You can stick this one under the X Files.

I read today about an unusually destructive inner city apartment building fire in Long Beach, CA @ the LA Times Online.

I was an LA guy for many years before moving here to Colorado and I read the Times online religiously. My family and I also lived in some inner city neighborhoods in SoCal over the years as a part of my work, so I chalked up the story as just another example of slum lords running dangerous and code illegal buildings. Free markets and capitalism at their worst.

Gotta make an important confession at this point. I was a slum lord at one time. Owned a multiple unit property in a poor neighborhood in LA. I did my best to create a good situation for my tenants but I worried a lot about a fire or something unforeseeable.

I also got to know a lot of other slum lords during those years. Let’s just say you’ve got some legit folks amongst those owners. And then you’ve got the rest :^).

A couple of hours after reading the story I checked my email.

I had two emails, both dated Saturday, December 9th.

One came from a friend and colleague at my NGO, Dave Palmer. Dave wrote about the terrible fire at his inner city apartment complex in Long Beach. He asked for prayers and support since his family now had no place to live.

Another one came from a wonderful guy, Dan Lundmark, who I’ve gotten to know over the past few months. Dan runs his own media management firm but lives in the inner city with his wife in order to do Christian ministry. I’ve been working with Dan to revise the website and media tools for my NGO. Dan wrote that his apartment complex in Long Beach had been destroyed by a terrible fire and that he and his family were now refugees looking for a place to live (Dan’s My Space page detailing the destruction).

As I read the two emails and thought back to the story in the Times, I realized that they had both lived in that same ill-fated apartment complex that went up in flames. What are the odds?

I had no idea they were neighbors. As far as I know, I don’t think they knew either. I’m guessing they’ll find out by reading this blog post :^) Or I guess I should say, were neighbors.

How crazy is it that I’d read a story about a fire in the LA Times on Sunday, then check my email and find messages from two friends and colleagues who both were made homeless by that fire, and then realize that they were neighbors who didn’t know they were neighbors?

OK, time to cue the Twilight Zone music….:^)


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