The fire alarm went off at about 11.30pm, and within a few moments people were coming out of their apartments to see what was happening. Some were fully clothed, but others were already dressed for bed, and all were somewhat disturbed at the prospect of a fire in the apartment block.

I joined the small gathering round the alarm control panel, while one of my neighbours phoned the management company for advice. Someone went to the 2nd floor – as indicated on the alarm display – to check for signs of something wrong, but returned to say that nothing looked amiss.

With no obvious signs of fire, the advice from the management company was to reset the alarm, which we did. And when the alarms were silenced, people quickly dispersed and returned to their homes.

The whole incident lasted no more than five minutes from beginning to end, but within those few short minutes I met and talked to more of my neighbours than in the whole of the previous eight months combined. Strange what brings people together.