29. The Street is Burning

Alvin was walking down 6th Street on a sunny day when he saw smoke coming out the street. He could smell the smoke, and was getting thicker. It was coming out of storm drain. Alvin used his cell phone to the fire department.

“The storm drain is on !” he said. The fire department asked for his and he said he was near 6th and . They said they’d be right there to investigate situation. Alvin didn’t have to be anywhere, so waited for the firemen to arrive. He was himself as to what could possibly be burning the street. As far as he knew, there ’t anything beneath the street except concrete. And everyone that concrete doesn’t burn.

A fire truck arrived few minutes later. “Are you the man who ?” asked the driver. Alvin said yes. By now could hear crackling sounds, like wood burning. The didn’t seem to consider it an emergency.

“What you think it could be?” Alvin asked the .

“Oh, we know what it is. We have take care of a problem like this every months. It’s the homeless people in their houses.”

people have been living under the streets for . Using their knowledge of the storm drain system, set up their own “bunkers” beneath the streets. living areas frequently contain tables, mattresses, chairs, and . The residents often “borrow” electricity by connecting to live wire above ground to power their own and even TVs underground. Either this borrowed electricity a discarded cigarette causes an occasional fire.

Alvin as a couple of firemen lifted a manhole and descended beneath the street with a fire . A few minutes later, the black smoke turned . Shortly afterward, the firemen reappeared with a homeless who seemed to have just been woken up.