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The House Fire, An Update

Thanks again to everyone for the well wishes and those that donated. Everything is greatly appreciated by both myself and my parents and the rest of the family.

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Things are moving along. My parents have already sent off the claim for the house insurance ($55,000) and my dad found out that some of his equipment that was in the shed that burned will be covered up to $4,400. At first he thought none of it would be covered since that shed wasn't covered. The new metal structure he put up to park his tractor and other things under was damaged from the heat/fire but he had not got around to putting it on the insurance. For the contents of the house, they had $27,500. If the house had completely burned to the ground with nothing left, they would have automatically got the full amount. Since it didn't, they have turn in an inventory of all items along with replacement/cleaning cost of the item. The insurance will depreciate items as well or not consider it something that counts (like the window air conditioner unit in the living room). So we have to go above the dollar amount and hope when the insurance takes it they don't mark everything down below that amount.

On the cat front. Callie is doing very well. She coughed a lot at first when I took my mom to visit her. But now she doesn't even cough. Callie and her brother Abu (my cat) were saved in late 1993 by my dad from the chemical plant he worked at, putting them close to 17 years old. They were originally intended to be outdoor barn cats but it was winter and they were small and a certain 12-year-old girl kept them in the house to keep them warm enough that they got to stay. When Lion King came out the next spring/summer, we almost changed their names to Simba and Nala, but didn't.

After the fire was out and the fire departments deemed it safe, my dad went in with them. A firefighter pointed at a puddle in the living room floor and said, "There's one of your cats." My dad saw it was Callie and figured her for dead. She was face down in a puddle of water deeper than she was big. He picked her up and said she started squalling and dug every claw she had into his arm. Later that day, she was taken to my dad's cousin that's a vet around 15-20 minutes away. He nursed her back to health and cleanliness.

Abu (my cat) and Cookie (around 12 years old) were found in the hallway heading for a bedroom and a bed to hide under. The smoke claimed them. Cookie was extremely overweight and had breathing issues. Abu was old (like Callie) and was in poor health. I had been expecting a phone call for the past year telling me he had passed away. Kitty (the youngest probably 7-8) was found under my parents bed. Smoke claimed him as well. He was a heavy set cat.

With other things... Much will be a loss. However, we were able to save almost all of the family photos. Some were wet and smoky, but they will be saved. My parents computer harddrive was saved. My cousin made backups of it so we can place it on whatever new computer they get. This means all my mom's digital photos are safe and still in her folder system. Her digital camera survived in the kitchen somehow. Her purse did not survive but the contents did. My dad had to cut into it, but they got it all out.

A local to me jewelry store that I do the website for has taken all their gold and some silver jewelry to clean at no charge. Including their wedding bands and engagement ring. There was a gold chain that was lost in the kitchen because it and the plastic dish it sat on melded together from the heat. Some sterling silver rings in the kitchen were lost because the corrosive stuff in the smoke/heat got to them.

I was able to set them up with cell phone service from Verizon and transfer their landline phone number to one of the two phones. So they won't have to deal with changing the phone number. Once the insurance money comes through, they are planning to tear down the house and then put either a large trailer (3 bedroom / 2 bath size) or a metal frame or modular home where the house was. My dad is going to try to save the bathroom and utility room of the old house and turn it into a new workshop. The bathroom actually still works, although it is very dirty. But if he can do that, then he can clean up after working outside in that bathroom and not get my mom's new bathroom(s) filthy. And he could have an old washer/dryer out there to do his work clothes in. And it would be nice if a little something of the old house survives to reach its 100 year mark.

Anyway, thanks again for all the well wishes and those that donated. It was deeply appreciated. I leave you now with some lessons learned and pictures below that.
Lessons for Others
  • Keep your home owner policies up-to-date as much as possible because you never know when tragedy will strike.

  • Have a cell phone handy while asleep just in case. My parents landline was taken out by the lightening.

  • Fire/Water proof boxes and safes are a good thing. Invest if you have important things to keep safe.

  • Water/Smoke will ruin just as much as the fire if the fire is contained to certain areas of the house. Storing old family photos in ziplock bags inside plastic totes/tubs is a good thing. Items stored that way were spared for the most part, even those in the kitchen where the fire hit.

  • Metal cabinets and their contents fared better than plastic, wood or cardboard.

  • Once the fire is out and if it is deemed safe enough to go inside, get as much out as you can. Fires can reignite and burn places the rest of the way to ground. This happened to my great-uncle and he lost everything. My dad learned and got the important things out the day of. The next morning, there was still fire smoldering in his work shed. Luckily it didn't fully reignite.

  • Keep a list of the important contents of your house up-to-date and stored in a safe place (a backup somewhere would be a good idea too). If the contents are still visible after the fire, you have to do a list of all contents and the replacement/cleaning cost on them to reach the content amount on the policy. This is hard to do.


The driveway of the house. To the left you'll see the remains of my dad's work shed. Then the back porch, kitchen, etc. Also note the hole in the roof.

Notice how the siding melted off.

Entering the kitchen from the back porch. One of the harder hit rooms in the house.

The solid oak kitchen table. It mostly survived a little charred, but the contents on it, not so well. The ceiling fan above it was completely gone.

The stairs and the fridge. The contents of the fridge were still cold, but not recommended to eat. Although I did use the ketchup from it and my dad ate the oranges still in there.

The computer that was sitting right by the door to the kitchen in the living room. My cousin took the hard drive out and saved the contents.

Walnut bookshelves in the living room that were made by my uncle. He is going to refinish them for my parents so they will be used again.

The remnants of my dad's work shed.

The ice cream bucket to the left was there during the fire and did not melt. It was a water bucket for the dogs.

The charred siding leading to the back porch. Vinyl siding was there.

More melted siding.

Two freezers that were on the back porch. We have to write off the contents of those which include around 40 pounds of fresh fish (catfish/bass caught by my family) and 60 pounds of pork from a butchering.

Looking back into the back porch. There's a metal cabinet back there that contained a Super 8 Movie Recorder that was in perfect condition.

The spaghetti artwork in the kitchen. It was inside a plastic cylinder with a lid and the plastic melted down leaving the spaghetti behind.

The dish rack in the kitchen. Everything kind of melded together.

The microwave.

A hoosier cabinet in the kitchen.

The front porch.

Notice the burn marks on the wall where pictures were hung.

My mom had pictures of myself and my brother and sister hanging there.

My parents had an unfinished styrofoam ceiling in the living room. The styrofoam melted down to nothing. You can see traces of it along the back corner.

The clock in the living room stopped at 5:38am. The kitchen clock stopped at 5:30am. The kitchen clock fell of the wall and made a perfect landing in a skillet on the stove. My dad asked if anyone had ordered cooked clock when he found it.

The new skylight at my parents house.

Looking at the backyard from upstairs. The still standing building had two dogs in it at the time of the fire. One of the first things my dad did was get them out of the pen.

My dad sifting through the attic area above the kitchen where the fire really hit.

Coke bottles in the attic room.

An old milk carton that survived the fire in the attic.

The wicker butterfly and pot coasters survived in the kitchen.

The van that was parked by where the fire started. It will be a loss on the car insurance. My dad and uncle used it as a shield to fight the fire. It helped save the house since they were able to hold it off with a garden hose until the fire crews got there.

Melted headlights on the van.

The side panel glass popped out into the van and the driver's side mirror melted.

Surprisingly, you can still open the door with the handle.

The inside panel warped from the heat.

The windshield is smooth to touch but all bubbled up.

Callie two days after the fire at her temporary home at the vet clinic.

My cousin Daniel and a cat named Luke. Daniel isn't currently working, so he's been helping my parents with inventory and sifting through things and tracking down prices on all my dad's gun equipment. I couldn't resist with how they look curled up in the same way.


( 28 Campfires — Leave a Comment )
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:41 pm (UTC)
This is so sad looking through these pics. SO glad no one was injured and it's so sad to have lost the cats. :(
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah... It's just sad seeing the house I grew up in gone like this. My dad did actually singe a few spots on his head and lost some belly/chest hair. He was fighting it in just a pair of jeans he grabbed on the way out the door. No shirt, no shoes. My uncle came to help in his underwear.
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
So glad no one was injured worse!!

*hugs you*
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:14 pm (UTC)
I know. My dad actually survived being on fire when he was around 4-5 years old. He was out with his dad and older brother when they were burning brush piles and had gasoline on him from being around and he decided to try to toss gas on the fire and it trailed it back and set him on fire. He was lucky to survive as it was in the country in the mid-50s.

He had nightmares of fire for a long time after that and I think they've started back up again. :-(

You can still see all the scar tissue on him from that fire.
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
That's terrible. Give him big hugs for/ from me.
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, Kayla, I am so sorry. :( I missed the first post you made, but I want to offer my support now. *hugs*

Special love to your surviving cat - what a brave girl. *cuddles her* And I'm so sorry about the others, and all the possessions you lost - I'm glad you and your human family are all safe.
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)

Callie used up all her nine lives and then some I do believe. She's mainly my mom's cat, so I think that will help my mom a lot.
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:01 pm (UTC)
That's good for your mom, then.

Lots of hugs for you too, though. I'll work on finishing up my Gibbs/Abby/Tony for you... it's not much, but I hope it will make you smile.
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Gibbs/Abby/Tony would be nice. :-)

I need to finish the Tony/Tim fic I was doing for the fic-a-thon.
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes you do. :D
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Wow! Those pics are heartwrenching... I am so sorry this happened to you and your family. I am so sorry for the loss of the cats also. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. Hugs!
Sep. 4th, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks again... Things are moving along slowly but surely.

Sep. 4th, 2010 06:25 pm (UTC)
The devastation is just...there are no words. Thanks for the list of advice - you never think that things like this can happen to you and it's good to be prepared.

*HUGS* I'm so glad no one was hurt. I'm am sorry for the loss of your cats.
Sep. 4th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, there's a lot of things you don't think of until it happens to you.
Sep. 4th, 2010 06:59 pm (UTC)
Looking at the pics just leaves me speechless. The devastation is horrific, and then there are the amazing little stories in the middle of it all, stuff that made it without even being singed (the spaghetti artwork looks actually nice!), and of course Callie. Love your icon! :)

I do have to admit that I LOLed when I read this: My dad asked if anyone had ordered cooked clock when he found it. Your dad is a pretty funny guy.

I'm just glad to hear that important stuff like the photos or the hard drive survived!
Sep. 4th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
My dad got a little singed. He realized he lost a few belly/chest hairs later on. And his head got a little hot/burned from the heat of the fire.

There was some humor you had to find within it all to keep from crying and the cooked clock was one of those things.
Sep. 4th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
Poor dear Callie - give her a kiss from me. I am so saddened by the babies that didn't make it. I hate stories like this. And the damage is horrific - your poor parents. I'd be heartbroken to see my house like that.

Hugs to you all.
Sep. 4th, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
I'm just glad they were able to save a lot of the sentimental things. When my great-uncle lost the other family home, they lost everything. The house had been kinda saved with contents like my parents house was but they left everything inside to deal with the next day and the fire reignited and burned it to the ground during the night.

So my dad made sure that didn't happen to them.

And I'll miss the kitties... Especially my Abu. :(
Sep. 4th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
For some reason the donate button doesn't work for me - I'm getting a weird "cannot decrypt" message :-(.
Sep. 4th, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
I got it fixed. I think LJ screwed it up when I was formatting something. It should be working now.
Sep. 4th, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
it really brings home what you've all been through as I looked through the photos - and its good to see Callie looking brighter even two days later (so sad to hear about Abu and Cookie) - give her a cuddle from me...I do hope that all the insurance and stuff works out and everything will be back to some semblence of normal for you very soon indeed...
Sep. 4th, 2010 11:13 pm (UTC)
Callie is doing good. :)

The insurance should do good. We hope. It's just the content amount that we have to worry about.
Sep. 4th, 2010 08:41 pm (UTC)
Oh wow.. i am so sorry that your family went through that. But I am glad that everyones is okay.

Thank you for the list of advice.
Sep. 4th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
Sep. 5th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
Sending hugs! I can't imagine how hard this is on you all, even now...and always!

Sep. 7th, 2010 09:02 am (UTC)
I don't know what to say other than me like everyone else on LJ that you've been a great friend too is here for you...There are no words for the devastation I'm sure your family has been going through since the fire. I'm glad I took time tonight to go through my friends journals and especially yours...

I remember yours and everyone's support for when my uncle died and I just wanted to let you know I'll pray for you and your family...and I am sad to hear about your kitties that passed also, just no words on how I'd feel if it was my puppy so I'm sorry for your loss on all counts.

But thankfully your family was able to save some stuff from the house. And you have a plan to move on as much as you can from the fire. I'm most def glad you reached out to all of us online b/c I know I'll be thinking of all of you for awhile to come. And I'll also be thinking of some safety and security measures on my own house b/c of that list...it's just frightening to think of all that happened in a matter of minutes.

Anyway for not having any words to say originally I sure threw some out there...just know that all of you are in mine and my family's prayers.

(Deleted comment)
Oct. 6th, 2010 05:55 pm (UTC)
3 of the 4 cats were lost. One of them was my cat Abu. He was a brother to the one that survived. I had been expecting my parents to say he had died for the last year because he wasn't in good health, but I didn't want him to go this way. :-(

The other two were younger cats but heavy set.

At least it was the smoke that got them and not the fire itself.
Oct. 8th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry that this happened to you. I can't imagine how you must feel. I'm sure most of the people who read your LJ did what I did, checked with their insurance agent to make sure their coverage was adequate and up-to-date.
( 28 Campfires — Leave a Comment )

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