Our House Fire – Stuck by lightning

I’ve written this post so many times over, yet I haven’t been able to hit the publish button. If you follow me on Facebook, you were up to date with the minute by minute plays of the tragedy that took place at our home on June 28th. I have written everything out detail for detail, then deleted the post. I’ve uploaded photos, then deleted them. I feel so weird sharing what is happening in our personal lives as this situation we are going through is so odd, sad, personal, violating and annoying all at the same time. I could share about the horrifying moments of getting everyone out of the house and to safety but I don’t particularly want to think about those details. I often think, no one cares to know what happened. I also think, don’t share because I want to protect my house and not have anyone ever think anything less of my all-time favorite house we’ve owned, silly I know. I guess it’s just that protective mama in me coming out. However, while writing thank you notes to all of the wonderful people who helped us, I typed out a very basic overview of what happened, leaving out most of the painful details that really don’t serve any purpose in the “moving forward” process. So…without further ado, here is something I’ve been meaning and wanting to share for a whole month now…

Our beautiful 1886 Victorian home was struck by lightning and immediately caught fire.

Fortunately, we were home at the time of the strike and were able to get the kids and dogs to safety immediately…after screaming so loudly that four of our neighbor’s heard my screams to get our son who was sleeping in the room that was struck and on fire. Within one minute of the strike, my husband was on the phone with 911 reporting our incident.

Police and firefighters rushed to our house. The police were able to rescue my daughter’s rabbit, Ellie, who was in the basement at the time. However, our three cats (whom we rescued from a drain pipe the day Hurricane Florence hit North Carolina back in September) were left in the house. Hours later, after the fire was put out and crews had left, I was able to find all three cats huddled inside of our box spring mattress. Phew!

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Four hours passed as crews put out and controlled our fire. A ladder truck was used to saw a hole in our roof to help vent the fire. A firehose was carried up our grand staircase (after sadly busting in our antique beveled glass front door) and taken to the back of the house where it was then sprayed at the fire in the attic.

The damages are extensive, like in a way that is almost hard to understand or believe. Currently, the estimated time for repairs and rebuilding is 10-12 months (yes, you read that correctly. Ugh!)

Four levels of our home were effected, mostly because of water. Regardless of the damages, there is so much to be thankful for. All of our wonderful (and that is an understatement) neighbors who came to our rescue to help, provide shelter, provide clothing (we ran out with pajamas and no shoes), to provide food, to provide love, hugs and support. It’s a day that of course we will never forget, but not necessarily because of the tragedy, but because of the immense outpouring of love we received.

In the moments of chaos and disbelief, we were surrounded by amazing people who took us, brand new neighbors, in and loved on us.

We face a very long road ahead of what will undoubtedly be frustrating, sad, trying and emotional. All of our clothing, shoes and blankets were taken by a company who specially cleans items (soft goods) that have been exposed to smoke/fire. All of our electronics were taken by a company who will test and clean them (this includes everything down to even our appliances to the remotes for our TVs). All of our personal belongings that weren’t categorized as soft goods or electronics and are classified as “salvageable” have been removed from our home and taken to a storage facility as of this week. However, the home remains full (and full is maybe yet again an understatement) of items that are considered a total loss. In addition, all of the items in the attic are deemed a total loss. Unfortunately, because we just moved in just under 3 months prior to when the lightning struck, the attic was full of everything and anything that wasn’t labeled “kitchen, bedroom, bath, etc”. So…undoubtedly, this will be a very trying time. But on the positive side, we suppose this is a good way to purge anything we didn’t need?!?!? Minus all of our holiday decor, baby keepsake items, etc. (haha, trying to stay positive!!)

What’s Next?

We’ve been asked by a lot of people, “what are you going to do? Where are you going to live?” The short answer is, we are currently living out of a hotel room (super fun with 3 kids, 2 dogs, 3 cat & 1 rabbit). The long answer is, we are currently pursuing other long term living options and will hopefully have a more definitive answer in the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately, because we have so many pets, our options are extremely limited.

We’ve also been asked “what do you need?” To be truthful, we don’t know. We have received an emergency wash load of our clothes back (about 1-2 weeks worth of clothes for each of us) but other than that, all of our clothes and ALL of our belongings are out of our hands and will be returned when we move back into our home (10-12 months from now, eek!). However, even if we were able to have any of our items, we do not have a place to put them because we are in a hotel room … which changes every couple of nights.

At this time, the only thing we need are prayers and more prayers. This of course is a very stressful time full of information and details that we can’t even figure out how to process. Rebuilding our 133 year old beast of a house, who stood so so so strong during the fire, is most likely going to be the hardest part, as we want the home restored in a way that honors it’s age, quality of build and history…just the way it was prior to the lightning strike! But please believe me when I say, our old gal seriously is amazing. She held so strong containing that fire the best she could, preventing even more drastic damages. I can honestly say, I will always own an old home from this day forward. If our house was of newer construction, I would likely have a very different story to be telling right now. {p.s. I should add that I honestly have some kind of weird connection to our house, even more so now that she withstood this fire. I can’t explain it, it’s almost like spiritual and euphoric all mixed into one and it makes no sense, except to me. Bottom line, I love our house and if you are on the fence about believing if God really does exist, come visit my house. I have living proof!} – end rant.

Many people have asked what is our new address or where they can send stuff. Well, it’s still the same! I go to the house daily (duh, it’s like my sick grandma that needs my love, care and attention!! I’m not leaving her!…if you know me, there’s one thing for sure, I am not an abandoner!) It’s still our home. We still have to cut the grass, water our garden and hanging plants. We still have to weed and clean our sidewalks. We still have to pay our mortgage, utilities, taxes, etc…so having mail show up at the house, helps give us something to look forward to!

Thank You!

In the end, thank you for all of your prayers, love and support during this time. We are beyond thankful and can never repay or express our gratitude!

Fire Updates:

Update #1: House Fire, Struck by Lightning

Update #2:  Update

Update #3: Frustration

Update #4: The Beginning of Demo & A Few Hidden Surprises

Update #5: Demo of the Downstairs

Update #6: 

Update #7: Silver Spoon

Update #8: Trick-Or-Treat; Victorian Style

Update #9: New Joists

Update #10: Roof

Update #11: Roof Demo

Update #12: Roof Demo & Rebuild

Update #13: Beginning of Rebuild

Update #14: Secret Bookcase!

Update #15: We Have Roof Shingles!

Update #16: Heart Hunters & Easter

Update #17: Butler’s Door

Update #18Hometalk Segment & Video Walk-Through

Update #19: Beginning of Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC

Update #20: Garden & Bunnies

Update #21: Choosing An Exterior House Color

Update #22: Treasures Hidden In The Ceiling

Update #23: Insulation

2 Comments

  1. Marie King says:

    Lots of prayers for you and your family including your pets.

  2. Jennifer Reichardt says:

    We did not know the damage was so severe. I am so happy your family and pets made it out safely. It was so nice to move here on Reed and be greeted by you and your children with a cake and welcome to the neighborhood. Prayers that everything goes well and you can be home soon. Take care and Happy holidays. If there is anything we can do please let us know your newer neighbors Brett and Jennifer Reichardt.

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