If you've been following my story lately, you know that I learned how to sew, LOVE doing it, made a bunch of stuff, blogged about it, and then things went quiet in January. I got sick. I'm still sick. It's been 62 days. On day 61, my house caught on fire. On. Fire. Fire.
This only happens to other people, right? Nope, it can happen to you. It happened to me.
Friday night, 10pm-ish. I was laying on the couch binge watching
Fear the Walking Dead
. My doorbell rang, twice. I paused the show, and got up to get the door. I saw two young men and a young woman.
"There's smoke coming out of your garage I think it's on fire!"
? I didn't smell anything. But, I could see from the front door that there was smoke. I went back inside to the garage door that enters the house and opened it.
I couldn't see anything but smoke. Flames. The door wasn't hot, the doorknob didn't burn me. The flames seemed to be toward the middle of the garage from what I recall.
I shut the door.
I have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen. But, I can't even see what's on fire, I don't even know what I'd point it at. I should keep the door closed. Call 911. Grab the cordless phone. Get out the front door. Now.
I ran out, closing the front door behind me. I ran across the street. Two of the three that had knocked on my door were running to my neighbor's house and knocking on their door. I came to learn that these three had been driving by and noticed the smoke and stopped. They STOPPED.
They did the right thing; the decent thing
. They knew that they had to raise attention. They were already on with 911 before I got out the door.
They saved my life
I called 911 as well, I could already hear sirens, I called my parents next. I'm surprised they understood what I was saying:
My house is on fire please come get me
. I let them know I was OK and they were out the door on their way. I called my best friend who lives a few blocks away - voicemail.
My neighbors started to come out. The good people who got me out of my house were getting my next door neighbors out of their house. I heard my neighbor screaming my name when she realized what was happening. Before I knew it, I had blankets covering me up, boots on my feet (I had run out without shoes on), a jacket and many hugs.
I really love my neighborhood. Everyone is so nice and was coming out to offer their support and anything I needed. The fire trucks came. Fire trucks from the three surrounding areas. Hoses. Water. Cops. Firemen. It's all kind of a blur. It was cold. Windy. Raining on and off. I spent a lot of time in my neighbor's garage. I didn't want to go inside. I didn't want to take my eyes off my house. My
At one point I actually lamented, "My sewing machines!"
The things you think of when in crisis. So stupid. Stuff that just doesn't matter. It's just stuff. There were really only two things in that house that I couldn't replace - both from my parents, and I would be devastated to lose them. I didn't.
What caused it? I don't know. Something in the garage, clearly. The garage is completely destroyed. My truck, which was in the garage, is melted.
That's one well done Chevy:
My snowmobile is toast. I was talking to one of the officers that was my "handler" and I asked him if he could see how bad it is in there, how's my sled? It used to have flaming skulls on it. Turns out real flames didn't take too kindly to my sweet baby.
They had to chainsaw the garage door off.
Around 1 or 2 am, the fire chief cleared me to go in and take what I needed.
Amazingly, the flames were contained to the garage. The fire did get into the attic, and as I saw in the light of day, there's a lot of scorching but only one hole in the roof, right over the garage, which is not unexpected. The door between the garage and the house really held its own, and the fire chief said that it looked like the door was only rated at a 20 minute burn (and this door should be a 2-hour rating). The fire chief was surprised that door held so well but it really made the difference between partial and total destruction. He also said that I was smart to shut the garage door to keep it contained.
Everything stinks. There's smoke damage all over, some places are worse than others. I don't know yet what's going to happen (other than the garage is clearly destroyed).
My insurance company thus far has been fantastic. The on-call adjuster has been so wonderful and put me at ease. I hope (and expect) that will continue.
We aren't sure what caused it. The fire chief came by today while I was meeting with some of the various cleanup contractors, and I walked him through everything. Where everything was in the garage, what was on, what was off, what was where (and by the way, I REALLY know where
is in my home).
As those who have been to my home know, you could practically eat off my garage floor. I keep my garage very clean and tidy. The guy that was looking over my textiles (clothing, etc) for cleaning took pictures in my closet, came out, looked at me and said, "you're very organized..." to which I responded, "Is my OCD showing?" Yes, my clothing is organized and hung by style, sleeve length, and color. White shirts on white hangers, black shirts on black hangers. Judge me later. The fire chief asked what my clutter level was in my garage and I assured him I ran a tidy ship. The textile guy said "you should see the closet."
At least we could get in a few laughs.
I pulled the textile guy into the sewing room and showed him the fabric stash. He'll work with me. I'll have to decide what's worth a cleaning attempt and what we just chalk up as a loss. All in time. I'll have some clean clothes by Monday. Today I wore shoes and clothes that didn't belong to me.
For now, I'm lucky. I'm lucky to be alive. If I had been asleep in my bedroom, there is no way I would have gotten out of there unscathed. I would never have heard the doorbell. If those people driving by hadn't noticed, hadn't stopped, the damage could have been far, far worse.
It sucks. But it's stuff. I'm OK. No one was hurt. Ok, my fish probably aren't going to make it, but that's a natural selection population control thing at work that I'm just not going to disturb. OTSS. Only The Strong Survive. On Monday, I'm going to ask them to clean my fish and see what their faces look like when I ask them that.
Today I'm grateful. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to have so many generous neighbors, family and friends that have offered their support. Like the phoenix, I shall rise from the ashes.
All this said, the blog may go quiet for a while since there won't be much sewing happening (since my house is currently uninhabitable). I'll try to post updates if I have anything interesting to say. I thank you for coming by to read about this crazy journey and I hope you find some inspiration in all of this. Be kind to one another. And, if you see something on fire, stop and help a fellow human out! We can all be heroes.
A very special thank you to the local fire and police departments. Thank you for everything you do.