Oh that wonderful time of night where you are in a deep, deep sleep. When you're body repairs itself. I love that time of night. You know what I hate about it? Waking up right in the middle of it. It doesn't matter how short the call is, it's never quite the same as sleeping through the night.
The lights clicked on and the tones sounded. I groggily swung my body out of bed and grabbed my socks. I padded over to my turnouts and slipped them on. If I wasn't awake before, putting on cold turnouts sure did the job. At least they weren't wet!
Pulling out of the station I noticed the reflection of the lights off of the cars and houses around us. Out of courtesy we didn't use our siren. After all, just because we have to be awake doesn't mean everyone had to be awake. Also there weren't that many vehicles on the road.
Dispatch told us that we were responding for a report of the smell of smoke and that the RP didn't want to be recontacted. It was probably one of the neighbors and they didn't want to start a feud. That also told us that we were probably on a wild goose chase.
About 3 blocks out from the address we noted the smell of a skunk. I thought that that was probably going to be it. It wouldn't be the first time that we were called for a structure fire/smoke investigation/natural gas leak that turned out to be a skunk. Then we smelled it. The distinct smell of burning plastic. The RP was right, something that wasn't supposed to be burning, was.
For the next several minutes we drove around with our windows down trying to pinpoint the source of the smoke. Finally we turned a corner and noticed the haze. We were close. Once we made it to the other side of the dingy atmosphere we stopped and dismounted. We searched each house with flashlights until we found one that had brown smoke coming from behind it. Before knocking and waking up the residents we decided to check further down the street as well. We then checked to see if dispatch could do a reverse 911 call (they can call the number associated with the address as long as it's listed), but they couldn't.
Walking up to knock on the door we noticed that the smoke now looked like steam. We watched for a moment more and the steam dissipated. Either the sound of the Cummins Diesel motor, the flood lights creating a false day out front, the radios crackling with traffic or the 3 of us tromping around talking (or a combination of these things) had alerted the residents that we were there. They obviously knew that they weren't supposed to be burning trash and doused the flames.
We decided that that was enough. The fire was under control and they probably wouldn't be starting it up again....at least that night. Time to head back to the barn and back to sleep.