On Thursday, June 30, I woke up, went for a run, had some breakfast, and headed to work. At 4:00 I got a call from Jason about some fire trucks in front of the house. I agreed to drive by, “just to make sure everything was OK.”
The first thing I noticed was the roadblock, 1/4 mile from the house. I parked my car and started walking in the rain. The cop manning the roadblock asked me if I was okay. “I think that’s my house,” I said, nodding to the cluster of emergency vehicles with their lights on. He hustled me into his squad car and drove me to the scene:
You know that feeling you get when you’ve cut yourself pretty badly, but it hasn’t started bleeding yet? “I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay…..” That’s how I felt. The house didn’t look that bad! It was probably something minor! We were saved!
Then the firefighter in charge came over to talk to me. He said that lightning struck two pine trees in our front yard:
From there, it jumped from the trees into the attic of our house. Specifically, into the wiring in the attic. The insulation ignited as the lightning traveled, and within minutes the entire attic was ablaze. The phone company employee who first called 911 said the smoke was so thick he couldn’t see past the hood of his car. A neighbor described it as an old-fashioned locomotive smokestack, spewing black smoke out of both ends of the house.
Did I mention we just put a new roof on that house less than a month ago? Yeah.
So there was a fire.
The fire department, which was AMAZING and about whom I want to write odes, arrived on-scene and got to work immediately. They pushed most of our furniture together and threw tarps over it. They grabbed the elderly beagle and got her out of the house. And then they pushed hoses up in the attic and turned them on.
So there was a flood.
Most of the ceilings became saturated with sooty water and began collapsing into the house. This went on for 24 hours. Wet ceiling makes a stomach-turning noise when it falls nine feet, sort of a splat-thud.
Just, you know, FYI.
The insurance company sent its adjuster out on Friday. We still don’t know the full extent of the damage, but my best guess is that 60 – 70% of the house will have to be replaced. The exterior brick walls and the windows are fine. Some of the interior walls appear to be salvageable.
Thanks to the quick work and amazing skill of the firefighters, it looks like most of our possessions were spared the fire and the water. The most obvious exception is the boxes of items stored in the attic.
Cue the sad music for some before-and-afters!
Family Room Before:
Family Room After:
Kids’ Bathroom Before:
Kids’ Bathroom After:
Jason and I are… okay. There are good days and bad days, but it seems that when I’m upset, he’s strong, and vice versa. There have been some major frustrations but many causes for hope. The most important thing is that no one was hurt – the rest is just stuff, and inconvenience. Our friends and neighbors have been fantastic, opening their homes to us and feeding us and mixing drinks for us. The children seem to be handling everything well – the two little ones think it’s Tyler and Jensen’s Excellent Adventure. Even Hollyn, who usually frets over schedules and timelines and What Are We Doing Next, has rolled with the punches like a pro.
And you know what? It’s going to be okay. At the end of this process, we’ll have a basically brand-new house. New wiring, new lighting, new floors, new paint, new roof (again. grrr.), even a new front door to replace the one the firefighters kicked in.
The adjuster guesses that we’ll be out of our house for four months. I’m being generous and aim to be back before Thanksgiving, 21 Thursdays after the fire.
One week down.