The Billings Outpost

Sage Tower fire like aging disaster movie

EDITOR’S NOTE: Roger Clawson was in the Sage Tower when a fire broke out there last week. This is his account.

Wednesday night I dreamed of the “Towering Inferno.”

It might have been the “Raging Inferno.” My vision was a copy of the one featured in the movie of the same name that played at the Babcock Theater years ago.

In a brief era of celluloid  art, terror films became  all the rage. There were movies featuring earthquakes razing cities, tornados, tsunamis bowing thatch-roofed villages into the Pacific, and hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, sinking ships, colliding trains and civilians under atomic attack.

Humans found themselves afloat or buried alive like Cheerios or seed potatoes, earthquakes bringing down skyscrapers, floods streaming across the land.

In my dream, I was concerned for the safety of the blind, deaf and lame. I wandered through the crowd, finding three blind men, a deaf woman and a 72-pound woman who was carried from crowd to crowd by enough firefighters to lift an ambulance.

Blind Kenny told us the next morning that he was drinking a beer in the small hours of the morning when four police officers entered his apartment and carried him away. A woman whose daily ride is a very heavy motorized wheelchair escaped in the same fashion.

None of those I spoke to on the night of the fire had seen any flames. The action was on the opposite side of the building, inside, three floors above the ground.

On the fourth day, I had more trouble getting around than anyone. One of my big feet tripped over my other big foot and I went down, horse and man. I never hit anything going down, but caught a beautiful carpet burn when my nose collided with the floor.

The next morning, a Crow friend, Ronald Medicine Horse, told me he had shared his experience with the crowd at the “Not in Our Town” rally in front of the Courthouse. I felt it was a shame that he had escaped the glory and sacrifice of a Sage Towers face-fall.

Don’t hiss or boo. Ron might have enjoyed the face fall. He loved sharing the story of killing a cow with an Oldsmobile when it happened to him.

Others who enjoyed fresh notoriety included older women who found relief from shopping in secondhand stores, older men who found relief  from older women.

The rehab crew appeared only a few hours after the flame was extinguished to tear away pieces of the ceiling, soak the carpets and empty all rooms above the first floor. Residents, relatives, the just plain curious, and others spilled onto the lawn.

Some residents wandered off to find a drink or sandwich at a pub in the neighborhood.

I went hunting sleep.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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