Since there were only four of us for Thanksgiving dinner this year, we decided that we’d have dinner out rather than having the traditional dinner and mess to clean up at home. Wildwood is only four blocks from here but fairly heavy rain caused us to climb in the car. Stepping out of the front door, we could clearly hear the din of sirens from multiple vehicles. Whatever was going on wasn’t being taken lightly. Pulling out from NW Northrup, I had planned on turning right towards Overton but saw a fire truck heading down Lovejoy towards our remodel project and future home. Like insects drawn to bright lights, I turned left towards Lovejoy. The street was completely closed between 24th and 25th: fire trucks and emergency vehicles everywhere. We pulled around the block to the Alano Club parking lot to find a ladder truck with its ladder resting on our roof and about half a dozen firefighters scrambling around the roof!
More Pictures Here! Sorry- link will be repaired.
The roofers had spent the day racing the impending rain and had won. They had laid a torch-down roof and waited over an hour to make sure that everything was okay from their flaming torches. It turns out that the house caught fire about an hour after they left. Thankfully, a member of the Alano Club called 911 quickly and the fire department had an incredible response time and brought all their equipment. I counted seven fire trucks, an incident response truck, multiple police cars and other siren-topped vehicles. The only notable absence was a TV camera crew. Fortunately the actual blaze wouldn’t have made the 10 O’clock news as the fire department had the fire out almost as quickly as it had begun. The scene? Now that was impressive.
Honestly, the worst part wasn’t watching the whole event but listening to the chainsaw cutting through the brand new roof, rafters, siding and walls. There is a complete feeling of helplessness as you are asked to step back from your own home.
We’d called Wildwood with what was probably the best/worst excuse for either being late or canceling a reservation they had ever heard. “We may be late since my house is on fire.” They were very accommodating and told us to get there when we could even though they were closing at 7:30. It turns out that we were there by 7:40 since there is absolutely nothing you can do other than stand in the pouring rain with all the other gawkers while your house a fire scene. We talked with the fire inspector and he sent us on our way.
After a great dinner, we went back to the house with flashlights and surveyed the scene. The fire department had cut a large portion of one of the dormers open (and done a great job patching it back up with a sheet of plywood). There were also cuts in nearby walls looking for other hotspots. And foam, lots and lots of fire retardant foam. It looked like someone’s bubble bath had over-flown. I think the most sustained damage will be from water. Getting the house dry is going to be tough since it is not tightly (or even loosely) sealed. The furnace is cranking away though. We’ve soaked the majority of water out of the wood floors but there is no way of getting it out of the walls and ceilings.
There is a lot of clean up and details to be worked out with the roofer about putting everything back together. Some of the brand new wiring either got cooked or cut. As bad as it is, it could have been a lot worse. If the fire had gone unreported for any amount of time or the fire department had been slower to respond, we would have arrived to a complete conflagration. Equally fortunate was that the house was empty and nobody was injured.