The PJ Tatler

VIDEO: Mother & Child Burn to Death in Inglewood Apartment Fire This Morning

KTLA.Com reports:

Two people – believed a young mother and her child – died early Thursday morning and three others were injured when a fire ripped through a 17-unit apartment in Inglewood, officials and residents said.

Firefighters responded to reports of a fire in the 600 block of Queens Street (map) around 2:30 a.m. L.A. County Fire Inspector Randall Wright said.

About 55 firefighters worked nearly an hour to knock down the two-alarm blaze, and fire officials remained on the scene as of 5 a.m.

Two females died, according to the coroner’s office, which did not provide age estimates.

Neighbors said they believed the two dead were a mother under the age of 30 and her daughter, thought to be 3 years old or younger.

This is startling news to wake up to — not only is the apartment nearby but it’s on the same street as one that we applied for last summer when making our move from the San Fernando Valley.

One of the big stresses in making the move was that we didn’t get the first apartment that we wanted. My wife went to a lot of effort to send our application next-day, only to be sabotaged when the clerk put in the address wrong, delaying it by an extra day, causing the apartment to go to someone else. (There are plenty of apartments in Inglewood, where my wife had decided to locate her art studio after graduating with her MFA in May, but the number of them that would accept our 70-pound Siberian Husky Maura was much smaller.)

Digging through my email I’ve been trying to find the exact address of the apartment on Queens Street we lost out on — if memory serves, it isn’t the same one that saw tragedy this morning, it’s just a few blocks further east — but it might as well have been. I’m treating it in my mind as though it was.

It’s my 31st birthday today and perhaps I’ll make this the lesson of the day to try to remember for the year: that the unknown variable — randomness, fate, chance, divine intervention, what Machiavelli labeled “fortune,” however you want to label it — can’t be forgotten or dismissed.

So here’s a big leap of a thought, but somewhat along these lines: I’m starting to think from my study of history that there’s a strong probability I wouldn’t exist and really, my whole family wouldn’t exist, if FDR hadn’t died during World War II and been replaced by Harry Truman who ended the war by dropping the atom bomb. (The state of Israel might not exist either, would it? If FDR had been the president instead of Truman, would he have supported the Jewish state?)

Truman had the moral clarity to use the bomb. It’s an open question if FDR would have done the same had he lived — I have little reason to think he would have. The war more likely would have dragged on and my grandfather, a pilot in the Pacific, would have more likely been killed in an invasion of Japan, and then never to return so my father could be born.

How much of history has turned on the errors of file clerks and on the decisions of individual men? How many lives just go up in smoke seemingly out of chance for no reason, while others because men in positions of power choose — or don’t choose — to take vital action?