Belgrade is on fire. A cinema located in the city center, just minutes away from Parliament, is burning and sending up dense, grey smoke that is choking the city. The air is thick with it, and walking down the street it is difficult to breathe. Even now, sitting in my hostel, the sickeningly sweet smell is oppressive. It has permeated downtown, hanging over the buildings and blotting out rain clouds, which until recently were the only thing blotting out the sun. The stench in my room is almost overpowering, giving me that feeling of nausea that makes me woozy even sitting down. The news is on in the break room, and I’m doing my best to follow what is truly a foreign language for me, despite its numerous similarities to Slovene. Fortunately, I can read the ticker along the bottom and get a basic idea about what’s happening.
Sometime around two o’clock this afternoon, a fire broke out in the cinema ‘Kozara’ on Terazije, a major street in downtown Belgrade. It appears to have been the result of some kind of faulty installation, whether it be wiring or some other kind of installation I have been unable to tell. The cinema is literally down the block from where I am staying, and I can see the fire trucks and scrambling fire fighters from the window of the break room. The fire fighters are still busy trying to put out the flames, but fortunately the word is that the fire has been contained. This is good news, considering that I would otherwise have a front row seat to the spreading conflagration. The smoke is truly horrendous, however, and I imagine that today’s cloud cover is keeping it close around the buildings here. Hopefully the rains will return and give these fire fighters a bit of assistance and perhaps even dissipate some of the smoke. More on the story as it develops 😉