Archive for October, 2005

113134568123746392 Tuesday, October 11th, 2005


ALL of the brick is coming off!

This is AFTER the first two truckloads left.

Stripped.

Amazingly enough, these suckers stuck around!

Just a shell.

113134554619359325 Sunday, October 9th, 2005


Our beloved kitchen.

Stuff that is trashed, and a red X (meaning that wall will go).

X’s everywhere.

Water heater gone.

Shower surrounds gone.

Check out that smoke damage!

Mess.

More mess.

Up inside the attic.

This was the first indication that the brick was gonna go.

The start of the brick teardown.

Fire pics – Day 1 Monday, October 3rd, 2005


The spacemen at our house.

These guys are true heroes.

Hose it down!

Blech!

Everything is wet.

Clear through the garage.

.

You can see where the smoke was just pouring out of every crack.

The doors that I had JUST finished!!

That is the indistinguishable mess in the garage.

They tore out the ceilings to get to the attic fire.

Charred.

What a mess! About an inch of water throughout the house.

Yes, that mess is the office and my computer.

Look at the soot in the hallway!

Fire – Day One Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Ok so here’s the recap of the past few days….

Monday morning, sometime just before 5:30am, I woke up and heard all kinds of racket going on in our garage. At first I thought someone was breaking in and throwing stuff around or had knocked something over. So I got out of bed, ready to kick some tail and as I walked down the hallway the noises kept up. Then I started thinking maybe one of the cats had gotten stuck in the laundry room (between the living quarters and the garage), or that a possum had gotten in or something bizarre (hey don’t laugh at that one! In our condo, a bird flew down our vent pipe for the furnace once and was stuck in a closet!!).
So I opened the door to the laundry room, and right away saw the door to the garage (from the house) had flames all behind it, could see an orange glow around the door, and smoke started pouring in. There was no smoke coming in before. I could tell from how much light was coming in, and how much smoke that the fire was already too big for me to mess with. I ran back to yell and get Andrea up. “Fire! There’s a fire in the garage!”. This was one of the most surreal moments of my whole life. One of those moments where you TRULY cannot believe what your eyes are seeing, and the words coming out of your mouth. Hard to explain what a weird feeling it was. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911. I saw that Sundae (one of our cats) was in the bedroom. I told Andrea to get Sundae and get out. I ran to the front to look out the window at the garage and could see it was a pretty good sized fire, lots of light from behind the garage door. I told the 911 folks that we had a big house fire and the address. They tried to keep me talking on the phone, but as they were talking, I saw Toe (our other cat) run by and into one of the spare bedrooms. I opened the front door to set the house alarm off so it would also dial 911. I told the 911 people I had on the phone that I could put the phone in my pocket and could check it again, but I had to get my cat!
I then ran into the other bedroom to grab Toe. She was wedged in tight between a box and our futon and was trying to climb all the way under the futon. I grabbed her by the base of the tail and pulled her out. I grabbed her tight to my chest and went to go grab the keys to the car so I could put her in there. Checked the fireplace mantle (where I put my keys every night) and they were not there! So I started running through the house, trying to find my keys, Toe clutched to my chest, smoke starting to come into the house. I had my hand on her heart and could just feel it going a million miles an hour. I ran all around the house, looking for the keys, in the office, back to the bedroom (and noticed that Andrea was already out of the house). I finally found the keys on the kitchen countertop, ran out, and put Toe into the Pathfinder. Andrea had already gone out the back bedroom sliding glass door and had Sundae. I grabbed Sundae, put her in the Pathfinder, and then drove it wayyy down the street to the far side of our neighbor’s house. If I hadn’t moved it then, there would have definitely been a lot of heat damage as it was parked up next to the garage door and the flames were starting to come out from underneath the garage door where it had melted. I got in my truck and moved the truck. Some guy said that he was on his way to the corner store to get cigarettes when he saw the smoke. He was out in the yard, shortly after I came out of the house the first time. He was on the phone with 911 and said he was about ready to bust down our front door if he needed to, to let us know about the fire. So Andrea stayed with him while I moved the truck. At that point we could start to hear the sirens in the distance. It took the fire dept between 5 and 6 minutes to get there. Pretty quick, but was one of the longest 5 minutes of my life. The fire had gone from just barely visible at the bottom of the garage door to about 6-10 feet off the top of the roof! It was scary as hell. Nothing to do but sit and wait.
The fire dept showed up and strung out their hoses and it seemed like forever before they turned them on and got to work. It was probably only about a minute, but it sure seemed like forever. They went in the front door with the hose, through the house and sprayed back INTO the garage. Really smart. That kept the fire contained and minimized the water damage. The fire had spread into the attic though and started moving into the rest of the house. They had to tear down the ceiling in the front hall, the office, the guest bedroom, and the spare bedroom so that they could spray the fire in the attic. They also tore open the gable on the side of the house so they could spray in there.
We had 5 fullsize fire trucks, one or two ambulances, and four police cars. All the neighbors came out.
It took them a good while to get the fire under control, it kept starting back up in the attic and leaping out the roof. It had caught a tree on fire in our front yard and torched some bushes. Also where they tore out the gable, it burned the grass on the side of the house.
Our neighbors were moving their cars, spraying their trees and roofs with water… if it had caught more of the trees on fire it really would have spread quickly to the neighbors houses since there are so many trees.
Finally they got the fire put out. The fire chief came over and told me that it was the result of improperly stored chemicals. We had paint thinner in our garage, and Miracle Gro for flowers, and had gas tanks for the lawnmowers…. ok… WHO DOESN’T!? He told me I shouldn’t store that stuff in the garage and so I asked him where we should be storing it. He said in a storage shed in the back yard. News to me. After this, we WILL be buying a storage shed, but c’mon, how many people have paint and Miracle Gro or fertilizer in their garages? Don’t get me wrong, he was very nice, it just seemed odd. So his diagnosis was that some chemicals in the garage had spontaneously combusted and caught everything on fire. Possible? Sure. Probable? ehhhh didn’t rest well with me.
Anyway… so this whole time, I had run outside just wearing jeans. No shirt, and more importantly, no shoes! Also our wallets were inside still. Our neighbor brought me out a shirt which was nice b/c the mosquitos were eating me alive. One of the firefighters took me into the house so I could grab shoes and anything else we needed right away. They were still trying to get the attic completely under control, and assess the damage and structural integrity. So we could only go into the maaster bedroom (from the back) and I couldn’t get a good look at everything, but it was messy as hell. An inch of water in the master bedroom. So we went back out and waited.
They finally got it all under control and the chief came over to give me a walkthrough. So our house is TRASHED from the water everywhere and ceilings being pulled down, etc… we get to the front door and I stopped him and asked if he’d mind wiping his feet before he came inside. hahaha for half a second he thought I was serious. Hey, humor pulls ya through some tough times. He had a good laugh, then showed me all the damage. Pretty bad. Sheetrock and insulation from the ceilings EVERYWHERE, water EVERYWHERE, smoke damage EVERYWHERE. But they really did do an excellent job of containing the fire. It could have been SO much worse.
While we were still watching them put out the fire, this guy showed up from a fire damage recovery company, Blackmon Mooring (they do LOTS of other things too)… it seemed really shady at first… he was telling us he can get a water extraction crew in there in a couple of hours and they can get to work right away. My house is still in flames and we’re talking about this. Rob put it right… ambulance chaser. So it seemed really shady at first but then we talked to him more, they are one of our insurance company’s preferred companies to deal with this stuff. He had a document he and we signed that said that if our insurance company refused to pay for their services IN FULL, that we would not be charged a dime. I asked why he could do that, what happens if our insurance didn’t pay, how are they not out of pocket? He said b/c he knew without a doubt that our insurance company would. He was the first person, of many, to tell us how good our insurance company is.
So the water extraction/cleanup crew arrived, they cleaned out all the sheetrock and the water. Oh yeah… no power in the house… and there probably will not be power for a week or more. Too much of the wiring got burned to make it safe to turn back on.
Andrea took the cats back to Rob’s place to get them out of the heat, and to buy some clothes for us for the next day.
So they got to work. Our insurance company called and said they would send the contents adjuster up that day. So that afternoon, I went through the garage with the contents adjuster and we tried to identify stuff. It was really hard because the fire was the worst in there. Most of it was piles of char or melted plastic. So we made a preliminary list. We were over there until it started getting dark. Oh, I also had to give a 30 minute audio interview for insurance.
The dry cleaners place came and took away all of our clothes, blankets, bedding, curtains, etc… they take it and “ozone” it… this process changes the chemical composition of soot, and takes away the smoke smell. Most of the contents in our house will be put into an ozone chamber to get rid of the smell. After they do that to clothing, they dry clean it and deoderize it. So we were told to pick out 2 weeks worth of clothing and put it on the bed. This would be rush ordered for us.
The insurance adjuster for structure was going to come out first thing tomorrow.
Ok and I’ll close this entry with a plea to anyone who reads this. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE check your smoke detectors, make sure you keep the batteries in them fresh and that they are working. My confession of ignorance is that we didn’t have any hooked up in our house yet. In reality, that should have been the FIRST thing we did as part of our remodeling. We were VERY VERY lucky. Lucky I am a light sleeper, lucky it made noises and woke me up, and lucky that we got out safely. PLEASE check your smoke detectors. You always hear about this stuff happening to other people and think it will never happen to you, but it does. We’re proof. Do it.
At the end of the day, it definitely put everything in perspective. All that really matters is your loved ones. All I cared about was that Andrea and I got out of the house and that we had our pets. Everything else is just stuff. Replaceable. It didn’t even cross my mind to grab anything else, or to go back in for anything. All that mattered is we were safe.

House Monday, October 3rd, 2005

Latest update on the house:

It burned down.

No kidding! No, I’m really serious. Well, not down, but we had a major garage fire. It spread throughout the attic. Good news is, everyone is ok. We are dealing with insurance, who has so far been great. I have a feeling this blog will switch to an update of the rebuilding of our house. (This time not by us).
The house itself wasn’t burned too badly, but the garage is gone. They had to tear the ceiling out in a few rooms to put out the fire in the attic. The majority of the house was drenched. About an inch of water in the master bedroom even. Smoke damage throughout. I’ll post a more detailed entry with pictures soon.