Last night I was just dozing off when I heard a crash in the living room. I thought the cat had knocked some books off the shelf somehow. I stumbled into the living room and saw the cat but no books on the floor. Then I heard what sounded like something scurrying in the wall. “Mice!” I thought, but it sounded larger than that. Then it happened again, and I realized it wasn’t an animal at all, but bricks falling inside of the wall.
We live on the top floor of a 90-year old brownstone. I immediately had visions of something like this and freaked out. “Wake up!” I said to my fiancée, “I think we should get out of the building.” Still groggy and far from rational, I felt like the floors could cave in at any moment. We threw some clothes on and ran downstairs and out the door into the cold.
The building from the outside was peaceful and by all appearances completely stable. We ventured back in and woke up our long-suffering landlords on the lower floors.
Long story short, the chimney on the roof had collapsed and bricks from the top had fallen inside the shaft. Structurally not a problem, but it could have been bad news if our landlord hadn’t realized what had happened and turned off the boiler. I guess the fumes could have collected inside instead of being vented safely outside. At any rate, it is a relief to know our building is not collapsing.