So, that happened.

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!

Kitchen Before:

Kitchen After:

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.



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7 responses to “So, that happened.

  1. I’m so so sorry, Windy. My folks had a major house fire last year. All of the ceilings had to be replaced, and 2/3 of the walls down to the studs. Their entire kitchen and all three bathrooms were a total loss. It totally sucked. Their consolation prize was a basically brand-new house. But they loved their old one so much that it was kind of a booby prize. I’m really sorry. Anything Ross and I can do, just let us know. In particular, if you feel the need to get out of town for a while, our house is always open to you. We have a guest room/bathroom, and the kids could camp out in our family room. Love!

  2. Shannon

    Oh, Windy. I cried reading this. Thank god you are all okay. And how amazing that the firefighters took the time to cover your furniture! My family had a house fire when I was eight (two days before my birthday!), and lost just about everything—at least half of that was just from the water damage. The particular smell of burnt house still haunts me.

    I hope that the rebuild is quick and that you all have ease in this in between time. Sending you strength and love from western Mass. xoxo

  3. Jen

    Wow. I am just so in awe of this post. My thoughts and prayers to your family as you go through the rebuilding process. Keep your head high, it’s amazing the positives that can come from such a negative experience. Thank you so much for sharing your story.


  4. Hi I am visiting you from I Heart Organizing…I am so sorry to hear this. My prayers are with you and you family during this hardship. Its good to hear that your kids are adjusting well and that you are holding your head up through out this storm. May God be with you and your family:)

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