Why does it take a major life changing event to remind you how precious life is? The things that you think are big deals become very small and your overall perspective changes.
I say this because while I was grocery shopping yesterday, I got a phone call from my mom. She seemed a bit off and then proceeded to tell me that there had been an Explosion, yes explosion, at their house. Of course my first reaction was to say, “you are kidding right??” Like who would really kid about that? Apparently about 10:15 yesterday morning either the gas hot water heater or the gas furnace exploded, causing a large fire. 6 Fire trucks and 45 fire-fighters arrived at the house to find the entire right side (garage and bedroom above) engulfed in flames.
Luckily the house did have smoke detectors which were hooked to the house alarm and immediately alerted the fire department. I can only imagine the shock my parents felt when they received the calls at work from the neighbors that their house had “exploded” and was on fire! One neighbor said she was standing at her kitchen window across the street and saw the garage door get thrown about 20 feet from the house. It stopped only because a tree was in its way.
(sorry for the hazy/grainy photos but we only had Mr. vB’s iphone to use to take photos of the damage)
Other neighbors thought the explosion was a sonic boom because it was so loud. The Fire Marshall’s will be back out at the house today to investigate further to the exact cause. All we can keep thinking is thank goodness no-one was in the house. We played the “what-if” game over and over last nights, saying what-if this had happened on Sunday when they were home, what-if it had happened in the middle of the night, what-if... I just keep coming back to the fact that both my mom and dad are safe and alive. A ton of things were destroyed by the fire, but no one was hurt. That keeps the perspective in check I think. Things can be replaced. My amazing parents cannot.
Here are some photos of the house throughout the day yesterday. (I was trying to find a before photo, but I think they might be on Mr.vB’s computer. If I get one I will add it to the post)
This photo was taken mid day from a local newspaper reporter. At this point the second floor had already collapsed onto the first floor and they were having trouble getting to the fire.
This photo, also taken by the newspaper reporter, shows the opening where the garage door use to be. The wood that you see is actually the second floor that crashed down. Since the opening was now blocked, the Fire Captain decided they would need to bring down the front exterior brick wall to be able to fully extinguish the fire.
Here’s what the house looked like by the time Mr.vB, my brother and I could get down there last night, which was about 6:30pm.
If you scroll up to this same shot of the house and compare photos, you will notice that the garage wall is totally missing now.
And here is what is left of what use to be the garage and the bedroom above the garage. Notice the large opening in the top left side of the house? That was my bedroom and the opening is actually where the closet use to be. The floor was so damaged that it crumbled as well. I apparently had left a ton of old letters and photo albums in that closet.
Here I am actually digging one of the albums out of the pile of rubble. It made me think that if I was that distraught over losing a bunch of old photo albums that I hadn’t seen in years, I couldn’t imagine the overwhelming feelings my parents must have been having. Obviously everything that was in the garage- tools, the riding lawnmower, hunting equipment, gardening equipment, the generator- were all lost, as well as everything that my mom had stored in what use to be my brother’s bedroom over the garage- smocked dresses, family heirlooms, antiques, a gorgeous four poster bed. Even my poor brother lost some things. He had stored his entire collection of Widespread Panic and Grateful Dead Cd’s at my parents because he was in the process of declutteting his own house to sell. He was worried that if he stored all 1,500 CD’s in the storage unit that they were renting, they would get messed up somehow. He never imagined that they would be ruined at my parent’s house.
Today my parents begin the process of figuring it all out. They currently are staying at an Efficiency Hotel and are being helped out by friends and family. I just spoke with my mom and she said they have gotten back into the house, but there is smoke damage everywhere. A company called ServePro has been hired to come in and literally take EVERYTHING out to clean and restore. She says the are trying to figure out what things they need immediately and what can wait. Then at some point they will begin the actual rebuilding process. Sounds like all the carpet and wallpaper will have to be removed and everything will have to be repainted, as well as the garage and bedroom being rebuilt. But for now, they just need to take it day by day, hour by hour. It’s a lot to digest and think about.
So the moral of this very somber post is the following:
1. NEVER take loved ones (family and friends) for granted. Life is too short and unexpected things CAN happen.
2. Check your smoke detectors every couple of months to make sure the batteries are good. Even if a fire does start, someone can be alerted before everything is lost.