Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sooo.. we had a fire.

So here I sit in a hotel room watching "Harold the Duck." Not the usual way I would spend a Saturday night..

This is the part when watching a movie it would rewind.. or time shift indicating that we are now going to the beginning of the story.. and we will return to this point later.

So Monday was a fun day.. start of the week.. a great work out.. diet going well.. and a house fire. That's what I said. A HOUSE fire.

I was sitting on the couch after getting back from a run, working on the energy to get into a shower. Steve was in the kitchen getting ready for a bowl of moose chili fresh from the crock pot before heading out to play poker with the boys.

As I sat about the couch a heard the tell tale sound "zzzzz....errrrrghhhh.. POP!" The light goes out, the breaker flips and Steve heads downstairs to flip it back on, he flips and "zzzzz....errrrrghhhh.. POP!" At this point I am standing in the kitchen as Steve heads back up the stairs.. he climbs up on the chair to see what is going on. "YIKES" ok, perhaps he used another word, the light fixture was hot! He put on gloves and started to take it down. At this point I notice what appeared to be an ember fall from the ceiling, my mind was moving slowly.. an ember?? Steve asked me to go outside to grab the ladder, I moved FAST. As I came back in Steve has the light down and was looking at the ceiling asking me if I thought that was smoldering. Again, slow mind "smoldering?" It did seem to be a little red around the edges, somewhere inside my mind I was putting it together and went for the phone. Steve meanwhile had gone up the ladder, looked into the attic, saw flame, realized we had no marshmallows or supplies to make smores and hollered for me to call 911. Which by this point I was already doing!

Next.. everything you have learned about a fire.. before it's "stop, drop, and roll" time. The dogs were sent into the backyard and I was told to grab what was important and get outside. I briefly debated how to get the harvest table out the door realized that wasn't going to happen and instead made sure I had my wedding ring, grabbed both the laptops and the keys to the studio for work in the morning and got out the door. Steve was flipping off the power to the house and heading for the door. Once outside we alerted the neighbours, since we are in a duplex, to get out of the house as we had somehow set it on fire and moved the car and the motorcycle to make room for the fire trucks when they arrived.

And arrive they did... 4 BIG red trucks with lights and sirens came roaring down the street.

It seemed like it took forever!!

I am standing in the middle of the street in my work out clothes, watching the fire trucks storm towards the house, neighbours coming out the doors, the dogs barking and just trying to comprehend that it's our house, our house that is on FIRE! " F%^&K"

It all seemed very surreal, plus I felt remarkable old as theses baby faced firemen donned the gear and rushed into our house. I wanted to cry out.. STOP! Does your Mother know that you are rushing into burning buildings? Give me that hose you have the rest of your life ahead of you! I did have a moment to smile as I approached the crew that first arrived and the Captain said to me "Susan, is this your place? Hey guys this is Susan from The Breakfast Club." In that brief moment everything seemed OK. I was no longer Susan in her sticky exercise clothes, terrified that her house was going to burn down. That Captain released Susan Knight, the capable, always smiling and ready for what ever comes her way woman to bubble to the surface. Maybe, if you asked a shrink not the healthiest way to live.. but I could of kissed that Captain for reminding me that I had the personal resources for what ever was coming my way.

What a humbling experience. My neighbours are gracious and beautiful people ready to come to our aid, the fire crews were professional and caring all at the same time. The hotel clerk "Luke" didn't blink an eye as we stumbled into The Grand looking for a room. Only one co worker has been rude about my experience, everyone else at work including my boss Mark and my bosses boss Don have been wonderful. My co-host Dan Freeman was ready to do what ever he needed to to help as did many of our friends. Special mention to Melissa who manged to get my husband a grilled cheese sandwich that evening as he hadn't eaten that day and his moose chili was unavailable.

The fireman gave us a tour before the lights were shut off.. a REALLY big hole in the ceiling above the kitchen, and a rather larger knee hole in the hallway where a fireman had missed the strut and went threw! Also some water damage and smoke but all in all not so bad. But no way we could stay because power was being shut off.

At some point in all the excitement I had gotten hold of work with a heads up that I wouldn't make it in the next day. The next day was a busy one.. Insurance agents.. house tour.. insurance.. and realizing that we could of been dead. Truly dead. If things hadn't happen EXACTLY as they did, chances of us sleeping soundly as the fire started were good *shudder* thankfully it didn't happen that way. This thought did haunt me for the first couple of nights and I could only sleep about 25 minutes at a time. The night I finally did sleep, I slept like a rock and when I awoke couldn't move my neck.. at all. So I sit here 4 nights after the fire with my ice pack, unable to steal the converter from my husband watching.. "Harold the duck."

Part of me does chuckle. I believe in the power of prayer. Part of my prayers as of late have included a requested for some help in the housecleaning department as we got the house ready to sell. You should see the job that the cleaning crew is doing - OUTSTANDING! God does work in mysterious ways.

Important lessons:

Make sure your fire alarms are up and working
Make sure your insurance is paid up both content and building. Capri and Southern have been great -- Our adjuster has been AMAZING!
A fire safe is a very good idea
The Grand Delta Okanagan hotel while great the first night (thanks Luke!) got "uppity" and unhelpful after that, plus charge 10 bucks a night per computer for Internet access!
The Prestige Inn has been good. The rooms are nice, the Internet free and the restaurant "Industry" fab!
"The Spotted Spa" is a WONDERFUL kennel, taking on both my low & high maitenance dogs without a question.
Respect fire crews. You never know where that fire truck with sirens on is going - get out of the way!
Most importantly in times of emergency, work with whomever you are with. Don't panic and move quickly but with purpose.
Plus for me; not only do I have friends to treasure that will drop everything to make my honey a grilled cheese sandwich, cover me at work, or whatever else is needed, I have a husband that is everything a girl could need both on nights where the only excitement is Shillaleigh and Barkley eating dinner and on nights when a fire breaks out in the attic.



danielasitar said...

Wow, sounds like you guys were so lucky to have been there when it started. Chilling story, makes me wonder about the electrical in our older 1/2 duplex!

Susan Knight said...

The wiring was new! Crap happens.. just make sure you have fire alarms, paid insurance, and a fire escape plan. Than you have done all you need to.. no sense in worrying about what is out of your control. I know easier said than done!!

sk xx

The Weckstroms said...

Oh my goodness, what an ordeal! I'm so glad you were all okay! That is a very scary (but important) reminder why it's so important to have the working fire alarms, appropriate insurance, emergency plans, etc.
Are you back home now? Is your place fixed?

Susan Knight said...

Not back yet.. I stopped by the house today and they had sucked all the insulation out and doing duct cleaning. Hopefully Power in the whole house will be on by the end of the week and floors and ceiling will be started and we will be in by the end of next week! Obviously our plans to get to the coast have taken a hit!

Bradley Cooper, Winemaker said...

Great story.
But isn't it
"Howard the Duck?"

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Oh man, I cannot imagine. My son bought a brand new house a couple of years ago and the potlights were smoking. The fire department came but no actual fire. It's one of those things you must prepare for but never think will happen TO YOU. Hope all resolves itself. Good luck. Your description of the incident was riveting.