The Pros And Cons Of A Fire

The smell emitted by objects burned is insidious. No matter the perfume, food or stench odors that permeate New Orleans, the olefactory mark of fire is persistent. On the way to work each morning, I walk by the Brothers convenience store at the corner of Baronne and Gravier in the CBD. Well, I used to, because Brothers is no more, consumed by a fire this past Saturday afternoon. Driving past the remains of the building yesterday, I was amazed at how quickly fire renders a place no more.

This morning, I saw that the fire took out the whole building all the way from the Subway on Baronne to the ex-Bayou Bagelry on Gravier. Thankfully, the newly-opened Steve’s Diner was spared. As I type this post, the scent of char remains in my hair and on my arms.

I feel badly for the owners and operators of the convenience store and Subway, but am glad that Brothers will no longer be the hotspot for drunks and vagrants in that portion of the CBD. Their source of malt liquor there is gone and, with it, their harassment of me and all of the other women who walk by there everyday, twice a day. Gone are the cat-callers, wolf-whistlers, butt-grabbers, purse-snatchers, public urinators and litterbugs. I’m sure they’ve moved down to Canal St. or thereabouts, but I can breathe a sigh of relief on the way to and from work.

Did you notice that a demolition company wasn’t at the site of the fire this morning, wrecking ball and crane in tow? Is the structural damage wrought by this conflagration, that had a fireman fall through the floor of the second storey, less of a threat to pedestrians and motorists in the Central Business District than a lone church in the Lower Garden District? One wonders.

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