I should have written this (super long) post a week ago. But life got in the way. We had a small fire. It happened on Friday, July 28 around 12:30 pm. We’re all okay and made out with minimal damage to our home.
Here’s What Happened
Todd took the day off from work to spend with the girls and me before the craziness of school and ballet schedules started. The plan for the day was to go roller skating, per A’s request; she had never been and wanted to try it out. So, we got up that morning, got ourselves ready and headed out the door with a fun day ahead. At some point before leaving that morning, a glass candle was lit in our downstairs guest bathroom and the bathroom door was pulled closed. In the madness that is getting a family of four out of the house, the glass candle was forgotten about and remained burning in our absence.
We spent about an hour and a half at the rink, so about 2 hours total away from home. We would have been out a few minutes longer but A saw fit to have a total meltdown at the rink, forcing us to leave when we did (thanks, A). Upon arrival at home, Todd entered our house through the garage (as usual) and I heard expletives and “there’s a fire” come from his mouth. Having already gotten A out of the car in the garage, I told her to stay put and not to enter the house; E was still strapped in her car seat. I walked into our house and found it completely filled with smoke – like, super hard to see – but we saw no flames; we didn’t even know where the fire was. After a few seconds, Todd opened the bathroom door to find a broken glass candle and fire damage. He found the flame smoldering on the floor and put it out himself. There were no raging flames and there was no blaze, thankfully.
So basically, the glass candle was already nearing the bottom and since it burned unattended too long, the glass broke and lit the towel underneath it on fire. I didn’t even know that glass candles could do that but have since had a couple people tell me it’s happened to them before. Anyway, the candle and towel were on the back of the toilet and practically up against the wall. The burning towel then lit the wall on fire.
After we found the fire and the damage, Todd and I looked at each other, I said, “This is why we have homeowner’s insurance,” and I loaded A back into the car. I’ve always had a knack for remaining calm in crisis situations. Todd does, too. The girls and I headed straight to my mom’s while Todd stayed back. He randomly knew to call ServPro and had them on the phone before I had even left the driveway. ServPro is a fire and flood restoration company; word on the street is they’re the best in the industry. He then opened all the windows and started running fans to clear all the smoke out. Thank goodness he did that so quickly, minimizing any further smoke damage.
Here are some unedited iPhone pics I took once the smoke cleared (literally). The candle you see on the bottom right is not the one that started the fire. Also, I had no idea how many cobwebs we had until now. I’m thoroughly grossed out by that.
What Came Next?
So, here’s where things got rough. In the moment, it didn’t occur to me that a small, isolated fire in one room can impact the entire house. As I mentioned, though, our downstairs was completely filled with smoke. Plus, the AC kicked on on at some point (because fire = heat) and circulated smoke and soot through our ducts and into every room. So basically, literally every single surface in our home was covered in soot (carbon), making it unlivable until it had been cleaned. A rep from ServPro came out right away to evaluate the damage and let us know that they would start cleaning on Monday and that it would take about a week. He told Todd right away that our couches and blinds would need to be replaced as well as our bathroom (duh). Plus, any food packages that had been opened in our shelves and pantry would need to be trashed, too. ServPro also informed us that someone from a textile restoration company would be out the following morning (Saturday) to collect all of our clothes, shoes, towels, sheets, blankets, etc. to be professionally cleaned (which would take 2-3 weeks).
What that meant for me was that I needed to go back to the house while my girls napped at my mom’s (they have a bedroom there – praise hands!) and pack up enough clothes and shoes to last all four of us 2-3 weeks. That meant I had to run through all our upcoming events in my head. I had to pack up our toiletries and whatnot, too. Basically, we had to move out for a little while. I, of course, forgot a bunch of things I needed because who can mentally run through a family calendar while packing in a smokey house? I should mention that the following week was a very busy one complete with two blogger events, the first day of ballet, A’s Pre-K Open House, E’s KidsPlay orientation, A’s first day of school, my wedding anniversary, a birthday party, and a baby shower. It was the busiest week we had in a long, long time.
Laundry. So much laundry. Everything I brought to my mom’s from home need to be washed. Everything.
ServPro started on Monday, 7/31, as promised, and finished on Friday, 8/4. Before we could move back in, we needed to buy all new everyday essentials such as toilet paper, napkins, etc. We also had to buy new groceries and borrow towels, sheets, and blankets from my mom (she’s the MVP of this story… and my life). ServPro left boxes of “discard” items in our garage we had to sort through and I had to reorganize every single room in our house because although the cleaners did a fantastic job, practically nothing was in its original place since they emptied all our shelves and drawers, cleaned the contents, and put it all back. If you include all the shopping we had to do, it took about 9 hours of our own work to get the house ready for my girls to come home and for us to resume life as normal.
Our insurance company has been amazing to work with and has already sent us a check for the bathroom repairs (hallelujah!). We have to itemize everything else that was damaged and needs replacing so that we can be reimbursed for that, too. I plan to order our new couches today and we’ll get our clothes, shoes, towels, etc. back on Friday (yay!!). Our couches will take 6-8 weeks to arrive and we’ll start getting bathroom, blinds, and paint estimates asap. In the meantime, we have sheets covering our sofas and a list of things we need to buy. But we’re home. And we’re safe. And we’re grateful.
Here are some unedited iPhone pics of the bathroom now that it’s been cleaned. No more cobwebs!
How Am I?
Honestly, I’m great; we’re all great. My emotions about the matter have been all over the place but my most prominent feeling – if I’m being real – is annoyance. I was annoyed about the inconvenience of being displaced and not being able to go home for a week. I’m annoyed that I don’t have all our stuff back yet. I’m annoyed at myself for being annoyed since the things I’m annoyed by are insignificant considering what could have been and what so many other families experience. And I’m grateful. I’m grateful for my husband who swept in and made things happen so quickly. I’m grateful for my mom who took us in and took care of us. I’m grateful for highly resilient children who haven’t missed a beat during all of this. I’m grateful to still have a place to live, clothes to wear, and all of our memories in tact. I’m grateful for homeowner’s insurance because the restoration bills have been outrageous. Oh, and I’m tired because I’m old and out of shape; this entire experience has been a lot of work.
Here are the Pros
Since we were staying (comfortably) at her house, I had my mom and other family members around to help with my girls during the busy week, and I didn’t have to cook or do dishes for a whole week (whoop!). So, in some ways, it was like a mini vaca (induced by crappy circumstances). Oh, and my house is cleaner than it’s ever been! Bonus!
Here’s What Matters
What matters is that we still have a home. What matters is we’re all safe and sound. What matters is we didn’t lose anything meaningful. What matters is that it could have been so much worse but it wasn’t. What matters is that our family was there to help us in our time of need. What matters is that we are loved and God is good. All the time. Nothing else I’ve said in this post matters but these things.
Thank you to everyone that’s messaged and texted me throughout this ordeal. Your love and support has meant the world to me. I’ve fallen behind on emails, blogging, and social media, but once life calms down a little bit more I will be back at it and will work on catching up on what I’ve missed. Thanks for sticking with me (and for reading this crazy-long post).
Oh and one more thing: make sure you check every room for lit candles before you leave the house and don’t light glass ones if they’re close to the bottom; you never know if it will break or not.