Around 3:45 on Sunday afternoon, March 23, 2014, a bright clear windy afternoon, firefighters responded to a fire in the 2900 block of National Avenue. A neighbor around the corner had smelled smoke and called the fire department, and another neighbor had alerted the residents of the house, who were at a local market and rushed home.
A woman who was standing down the street said she saw one man pull a black trash can from a yard into the alley, the trash can was on fire, while another man was trying to douse the flames with a garden hose, then the first man pulled another trash can which was smoking out into the alley; both trash cans were the black plastic wheeled type issued by the city, the first one quickly burning right down to the wheels. Just then, a firetruck arrived and put out the fire.
In response to a query, one of the fireman said, "Oh, it was just a trash fire." The smell and the smoke had penetrated the nearby homes causing all the neighbors down 30th Street to rush outside. The fireman said, "The wind was blowing in that direction, that's why."
After a few minutes, while the blackened charred pile was still steaming, the firefighters left, and a man began to clean up the mess with a shovel, dumping it into the other trash can which was heavily damaged, the plastic lid and some of the side completely melted. Two other men stood inside the yard, and then two women appeared, the group silently surveying the damage, as the one man worked. One of the women said, "We tried to put out the fire, but the landlord had installed some kind of water restricting device and the water wasn't coming out hard enough to stop the fire."
When they were asked what happened, the women responded that they didn't know. "We can't understand why the fire started. There was nothing to start a fire in the trash can. Maybe someone walking by threw a cigarette in the yard and that started the fire." Which didn't seem probable since the trash cans are lidded, and the fence is approximately six feet high with netting obscuring the view inside. One of the men jokingly said, "The dog was smoking." There was a small beige dog, Chihuahua-mix, in the yard.
On top of a vehicle parked right next to where the cans had been located were two bird cages appearing to be empty and clean. It was observed that luckily the birds were not in the cages or the smoke would have killed them. One of the woman looked at the cages and said, "They are out here because the birds died yesterday. Two of them. A cockatoo, and a parrot." When asked what happened to the birds, the woman replied, "We don't know. They died yesterday, we don't know why. They just died, both of them."