I had just sat down to write a new post when one of my roommates ran by shouting, “there’s a car on fire man, there’s a car on fire!” We ran over to the balcony to look out on our street and sure enough, a small white passenger vehicle had flames licking the air and smoke billowing in the street.
A few things go through your head when you’re in a strange country and a mild emergency situation occurs. How did the fire start? None of us saw what started the fire and there weren’t any other damaged cars in the street. In a country notorious for street crime, one immediately assumes something nefarious but there was no indication of bad intention we could see. Most likely, faulty wiring or poor maintenance caused the fire.
How long does it take for emergency response here? It was midday on a Saturday and the firefighters (os bombeiros) arrived in under 10 minutes to deal with the situation. In the meantime workers at nearby buildings tried to put out the flames with handheld fire extinguishers with minimal effect.
As you can see from the picture above, the fire truck itself was new and in good shape. It is hard to tell from the picture, but the truck brand was Ford. The firefighters did not attach their hose to any street water connections and instead appeared to be using water stored on board the fire truck. The fire was put out and the situation well under control in under an hour. The road was never blocked off to through traffic so cars and motorcycles simply made their own way around the smoking car and fire truck. The ensuing traffic jam almost caused a separate accident, but drivers and traffic on Brazilian streets will be for a separate post!