House Fire Leaves Family of Seven Homeless

The title of my last post was “What a Difference a Day Makes.”  I had no idea.  A little over 24 hours ago, my house burned to the ground, leaving my family with nothing but the clothes on our backs, our cars, and the contents of our garage.  So much has happened in the time since then and I want to share all of it with you. And I will, as soon as I get the chaos of the last day organized inside my head.  For now, I’ll just give the details of the first couple of hours, since I know that’s what everybody wants to know.

It was Wednesday night, after church.  Everyone had gone home and we had finally gotten everybody in the car when a police cruiser turned into the church parking lot.  The policewoman got out of her car and walked up to the car and I rolled down the window and asked, “Hi, can I help you?”  She said she was looking for my husband.  My mind went to any past speeding ticket or something he hadn’t taken care of and I got nothing.  My husband said he was who she was looking for and she said, “I hate to have to tell you this, but your house is completely engulfed.”  What?!  “Oh my God.” 

My husband went to his parents house next door to tell them the news, my sons started asking questions, and my oldest daughter started crying.  I did what all moms do in situations like this and kept my cool and comforted them the best I could.  My husband got back in the car and we followed the police car to our burning home. 

We saw the smoke and lights of the firetrucks before anything else.  I think we were secretly hoping it was the neighbor’s house.  We knew better, of course.  How in the world would she have known where to find us?  The neighbors knew where we were and told her. We turned onto the street and yes, it was our house. We climbed out of our car and walked over to watch with the neighbors as our house burned.  It was unreal.  The neighbors described the first flames and one neighbor told us of his attempt to go in the house to make sure everyone, including the pets, were not in there.  He didn’t get very far because the heat and smoke were unbearable.  Fortunately, the pets were left outside and we were 15 miles away.

Pretty soon, the Red Cross and the News showed up.  My husband went with the Red Cross volunteers (two of the sweetest people I’ve ever met) and I carefully avoided the news guy.  I was not going on television.  I don’t even like to see myself in pictures, much less on the 11 o’clock news.  He asked my son where his mother was, but my mother-in-law told him I didn’t want to be interviewed.  I checked the news channel’s website later and the headline was “House Fire Leaves Family of Seven Homeless.”  Homeless.  Wow, what an impact that word had on me.  More about that another time.

While we stood on the lawn across the street, 6 church members arrived, within 30 minutes.  Word travels fast in a small town.  There were hugs, assurances of prayer, promises of help,  and condolences.  There was no crying.  There was no despair.  There was even some laughing.  I know people were waiting for me to lose it–to cry, to turn inward and go silent, something.   But I didn’t and I haven’t.  I’m sure it is partly because the enormity of the loss hasn’t fully sunken in, but mostly it’s because I know now as I knew then, that everything is going to be okay. 

I would like to tell you the different ways people reacted to The Event.

Husband:  “It’s time to put our money where our mouths are.”  (I will explain this in my next post.  This is the most exciting part of the story and I can’t wait to tell you about it.)

Me:  “I feel like someone is trying to teach me a colossal lesson.”  

Aidan (the 12-year-old): I hope the dog’s okay (he disappeared while the firetrucks were there, scared out of his mind.) and “Everything I own is paper or plastic,”  his realization that he wouldn’t be able to salvage anything from the wreck.

Fire Chief: “Total Loss.”  Well, I have to disagree with that and you will see why in my next post.

Mikey (almost 11):  Silent crying. 

Molly (8-year-old):  Immediate sobbing and lamenting of “all my dolls and my bathing suit.”  Brief fun rolling down the neighbor’s ditch with her brother, and then more crying and “All my stuff was in there!”

Anna (19-month-old): No clue what was happening, but definitely knew something was.  She’s fought sleep ever since.

Billy (5-year-old):  Standing on the curb, looking at the black, burning shell of our house, he points to the porch, which is only slightly damaged and says, “Look at the porch!  It is MESSED UP!!” 

That’s my boy.  Make ’em laugh.  The alternative is much too depressing.

This used to be my living room

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124 thoughts on “House Fire Leaves Family of Seven Homeless

  1. Momfog, I sincerely apologize. I’m extremely lucky to have never been in a situation like this. I’ll be praying and wishing for you to safely make it through this. Even though I had never been in a fire, my mom had. Luckily it wasn’t her house, it was the barn, but all the animals… (alright, I can’t finish that without crying, sorry.)

  2. My jaw is on the floor. My first thought was: How does she have time to write when all of this is going on? My second thought was: Do they have a place to stay? I’m guessing what you’re going to write next -something about how this was a blessing in disguise or that what you and your husband always wanted to do has to happen now b/c you’ve lost all your belongings and now is the time to face your dreams? Something abundant out of something that’s lossed. You are amazing. I am inspired. Going to start a thread at Off Topic.

    “I did what all moms do in situations like this and kept my cool and comforted them the best I could.”

    That was your faith. Beautiful faith 😉

    • I wrote this really late at night, when I usually write. There was so much going through my head, I thought it’d be good to let a little of it out.

      We are staying with my in-laws and you have no idea the abundance that’s come from this. I’ll share the whole amazing story as soon as I can.

      • Erin, I have just come across this post, I am deeply deeply sorry you have had to go through this, many years back I went through a similar experience it felt so surreal for such a long time, the enormity of it all just wouldn’t sink in.

        I know you can never replace those memory items, but I am sure you will have many many more wonderful memories to come.

        Foggy, I also have some excess cake decorating supplies I would like you to have, (some really nice cutters etc) I know how much you love doing your cakes and how much pleasure it brings you, please contact me so I know where to send them for you, if you prefer they are sent to the church for you to collect thats fine.. whichever you would like.

        Again, a huge hug from across the pond in australia.

        • That is so sweet! I’ll get you the address. When I think about all the cake supplies I lost, it makes me feel a little sick. It took a lot of time and money for that collection. Oh well. Now I at least have a better idea of what I’ll use and what is not worth the money.

          Thanks for the hugs. I need them!

    • Thank you. I’m so glad it didn’t happen when we were there. Or worse, when we were there sleeping. We’re staying strong with the support of some really great people.

  3. Oh wow. I am floored. You truly never know what can happen in our lives from day to day. I am glad you and your family as well as the pets are safe though! Will say prayers for you and your family.

  4. Sorry to hear about the fire. Not sure what else to say, other than that your new look blog looks good. Hope everything sorts itself out soon enough.

  5. Very sad news – or is it? I detect a note in this post of a future plan brought forward, a concept that seems to be almost welcome. I DO hope you were insured!

    Thank goodness you were not at home at the time, Erin. So glad all your family are same and I am sure the dog will return.

    I do love the concern about the bathing suit!

    What was lost were things – things can be replaced, photos recording memories will be replaced by memories in your hearts – but YOU are all still together, that is the most important news.

  6. Momfog, oh no, this is way too much and I am so, so sorry to hear this. I have not read through the details but you and your family have had to live through them and my heart goes out to you all. Love and best wishes with huge relief that family of seven remains intact!

    • Thank you for your prayers. I guess I am an optimist–with reservations. But there’s so much more to it than that, and it has nothing to do with me, I promise.

  7. My prayers and thoughts are with you. I’m very sorry for your loss but am happy to hear everyone is safe. As I clicked on the link to read this post three firetrucks came screaming down the mountain. I ran outside to see if I could see smoke, must be a mountain or two over.
    Blessed be.

  8. Uh, wait. This really JUST happened to YOU? Oh, my goodness! I am SO sorry. I mean, I’m just shocked. I’m SO glad your whole family is ok and wasn’t there to be hurt. But, what a terrible loss for you and your family. What can we do? How can we practically help you?

    Fire is my worst nightmare. When I was kid, I lived in a neighborhood where they were setting all the houses on fire. They were large apartment houses with only alleys in between. I live in NY. Anyway, we kept a little bag packed by the door with a change of clothes. I remember so many night when my parents woke me grab my bag and go wait outside across the street. The fires would jump very quickly from building to building. I watch so many houses burn. The one I lived it burned to the ground six months after we moved out. My uncle owned the building.

    I am praying for you. Please tell how we can pray specifically and what else we can do. You and your family have such amazing attitudes. Cling to the knowledge that God can take this terrible tragedy and use it for something beautiful in your family. Sending great big *hugs* your way.
    -FringeGirl

    • Thank you so much for your prayers and the prayers of your readers. It means a lot.

      Pray for a solution to the living situation. We’ve got somewhere to go, but it’s not ideal. Only a small tweak and it would be perfect!

  9. Erin: Your Faith is evident. Keeping your family strong and comforted is exactly what a mom would do. You all are much loved there in GA as well as AL. Sam and I will do what we can to help from here. We love you and will continue to pray for all of you through this difficult time. This could be a “Refiners Fire”. Each of you will come through this with Amazing Grace. Love you, Aunt Adele

  10. Pingback: House Fire – Family of 7 Left Homeless « the domestic fringe

  11. Oh my goodness!!! I thought surely this was not about YOU when I read the title! I cannot believe it, I am so, so sorry! I was tearing up but now I cannot wait to hear what is in store next!! My friend lost her home last year to a tornado, she just moved into her new gorgeous home a year later and is so grateful, although it is not the same as losing your things to a housefire. I pray your photos were stored online somewhere! God be with you and your family during this trying time . ((((HUGS)))) from Oklahoma!

  12. I’m sorry for your loss Momfog, I don’t even know what to say. I wish you the best in finding order through this tradgedy, how can your WordPress friends help?

    • Just reading all these wonderful comments has been a great help. Truly. I’m speechless. Ok, I’m never speechless, but you get what I’m saying. :-0

  13. I am so sorry to hear this and I am glad that apparently you are all well.
    It impresses me a lot how you seem to take it so well and see the good side of it too. I couldn’t imagine how I would react in your situation. Best wishes from Germany!

  14. I came across this post and could hardly believe what I was reading. That ,must have been a shocking experinece and your family seems to have reacted very well in the circumstances. I hope you get yourselves sorted out soon

  15. I am so glad you are all safe. My prayers are with your family.
    Is there anything we can do to help? Let us know!

  16. Wow Momfog. I do love your stories but I really wish you wouldn’t go to such great lengths for story ideas…I’m so glad you are all safe and sound.

    I can replace your CD. Let me know when you have something to play it on…you’ll need the soothing sound….

    If there’s anything else I can do….

    -Jeff

    • Lol! Yes, I like to spin a good yarn when I can, but even I’m not this desperate for the opportunity. 🙂 The CD is in the car, where I find it most effective. It had escaped my mind, but I think it’s a good idea to bring it in to calm down this crowd. They’ve been bouncing off the walls. A normal child’s reaction to drastic change, but it sure is making it hard to concentrate on all the things I need to get done.

      Thanks for the humor, there. That’s what I love best. You’ve done plenty to help just by starting off with a joke.

    • Ah, don’t cry. I haven’t cried but I’ve come desperately close when someone else is crying. I’m like Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias. “I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence.”

      All is well. To quote another Steel Magnolias character (Clairee) “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” I love that movie. 🙂

  17. Dear Erin,
    I have lived through a house fire. We lost everyhting and not all of us survived. I’m really sorry this happened to you. Be strong and know that you can overcome this with the help of family and friends,
    With much love,
    TiTi

    • Oh TiTi, I am so sorry to hear that. ((hugs))

      We have a great group of friends and family and our church has been amazing. We’ll be fine. Thanks so much for the encouragement.

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  19. Erin, i am deeply sorry for you and the family and i’m glad no-one was in the house at the time. My house insurance is due and i was not going to bother with it, but your plight just made up my mind to get it. Everyone will have to stay strong and help each other, good luck, thinking about you all, Harry

    • Oh Harry. Definitely don’t let that insurance lapse. We rented our house, but luckily the owners did keep up the insurance. It’s such a mess and I can’t imagine the expense of clearing the land.

      We are helping each other and we’ll be fine. Thanks.

  20. A disaster like this truly makes you put things into perspective. I’m glad that you’re family, most importantly, are all safe. However, I know that it must be horrible to be displaced, not to mention all the keepsakes lost in the fire. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family!

    • Luckily almost all our photos are saved on another outside computer, along with videos. My mom has copies of our wedding pictures. The children’s Christmas ornaments are a hard one to get over. Their entire school and church history were in those handmade ornaments. Christmas will be a little less merry this year. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

      • O, I am going to have to respectfully disagree- do you think your church friends and neighbors and family will let that happen? I am betting you will have the most AMAZING holiday season, where peole show up for you all in a big way, quickly creating new, cherished memories- and ornaments. It will be THE ONE you all always remember, the Christmas when you had no doubts about how much others cared for all of you. You will be grateful… what else is there but gratitude and love, in the end. And your children will have that memory for life. And new ornaments, I am guessing. Handmade. With affection.

        Anyway, that is how I visualize things going for you. God Bless!

        • That is definitely how it will go for us. It already is. I just meant that when we decorate our tree, we’ll miss those keepsake ornaments. Christmas as a whole, will be as merry, if not merrier. I like your visualization and agree 100%.

  21. I’m so sorry, Erin! I’m glad the Red Cross was there. I used to help out on a DAT, too. I need to do that again, now that we’re moved.

    Wish I was closer to help out, but you’re definitely in our prayers. I’m glad none of your family was hurt.

  22. Pingback: House Fire – Family of 7 Left Homeless « Tying Molecular Knots

    • Oh dear. I hope that your apartment is on the first floor. If we all moved in, you would certainly jump out the window. I’m tempted to do that myself and I love the little monsters.

      Thank you so much for the offer and your good wishes, though. 🙂

  23. Wow, If I hadnt seen this headline in the forum I would not have known. (whats up with my email being slow to deliver?)

    I wan’t to say this is a tragedy, but I can’t help but see your faith in God and in your soon to be revealed plans at work in your words. If its true what they say about not hiding your light under a bushel.. your not. (no pun intended) I admire your level headedness and practical aproach to this. You have your family near by and church and children. It could have been so much worse.

    Let us know if there is any thing we can to do help. I think wordpress allows you to put a paypal donation button . If you felt like it.

    • Tragedy is an appropriate word, but like you said, close friends and family make all the difference in the world. I’m certainly not hiding my light under a bushel, but I also try not to blind/maim people by shoving it in their faces, either. 🙂

      @PayPal. I’d feel awkward doing that.

  24. Thank You God that none of you were in the house, that your family and pets are all safe, that your family photos were elsewhere and that you are surrounded by amazing people in your community.
    I’m so sorry that this awful thing had to happen to you and your family… could you please email me privately ?
    In the meantime I send good thoughts, and BIG hugs…. kiwidutch

  25. Pingback: A tale of two 5′s « 224

  26. Oh my God, Momfog! I was so shocked to see this post. It made me want to cry, but I was so thrilled to see your comment…’everything will be okay.’ And it will. Other people think that it’s too hard to deal with, or get past something like this. But your positive outlook is wonderful. I’m so looking forward to hearing about the exciting things you hinted at in this post…maybe you’ve already posted them. I’m just catching up on my blogs! Well, you and your family are in my thoughts, and I know you will all be fine. You have each other. 🙂

  27. Erin–I haven’t been online in awhile due to a ruptured disc making it difficult to sit for any period of time, but your post reminded me that sometimes even my “big” problems can be relatively trivial. Although I don’t know the whole story, it sounds like your husband and you are handling things OK, all things considered. Nonetheless I am praying for you and your family as I am sure it is stressful and disruptive for all of you, parttcularly your children. God Bless.

    Ryan

    • I’m sorry you’ve been in pain. That is pure misery. I was wondering where you’d gone. 🙂 We are doing well and I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. The children are taking it all very well. All they talk about is getting back their stupid Nintendo DS video games. Thanks to their grandma, they all get one this week. That will be like Christmas in June!

  28. God bless you and your family! I just found your blog through another blog that I follow and I am so glad I did. You are an inspiration. Your positive attitude and trust in God is so greatly inspiring to me. I am so happy that you, your family and your pets all survived this disaster!

    It’s been said, as one door closes another door opens. How blessed you both are to realize your opportunities.

  29. In your time of trial, my heart and prayers go out to you. As a mom who has also endured tragedy, I understand a little. There is no one but you who can truly fill those shoes. Thank you for sharing, even the horrible stuff. God bless you and your family.

  30. I’m soooooo sorry to hear this. I read your post for today, as well, and I, too, believe that God will provide. Your family is safe and sound and that is what is important. Again, I am so sorry. You and your family are in my prayers (honestly.

  31. Oh no, how awful. I know you are all keeping strong, but I had such a lump in my throat reading this. I’m so, so sorry for you all. What a devastating shock it must have been for you when the police told you.

    Thinking of you all x

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  33. I’ve been out sick. I am so sorry I am just getting around to reading this. I am so sorry girl! I am glad you have such a great support system. I am so grateful that your family was all out of the house while this happened. God is good even when life stinks. My heart and prayers are with you. Blessings sweet friend.

  34. I just read this, I am so sorry for you losses. I am so glad that your family and pets are safe. I pray for your strength and courage during this difficult time.

    Regarding the comment about home insurance – NEVER let that lapse, even if you are “just” renting. It’s not necessarily about replacing the things you have lost – you can’t put a price tag on sentiment – but it will help you get the things you need to live, like clothing, furniture, etc.

  35. I am sorry to hear about this loss. Your post came up in the forums and I clicked on it because I too was in a fire. The day after Christmas a fire consumed my home, and took down a total of 7 families. There was also three businesses below that were effected. I am still grieving over this event and looking to connect with people that have been in the same situation. Feel free to check out my blog Fire Survivors, and let me know if you have any questions. Maybe we can help each other other with advice. Good luck and keep the faith. Some days are better than others.

    • Oh gosh. Your experience was much more traumatic than mine. Of course, I’m available to talk if you want and I’ll check out your blog as soon as I get a chance. Good luck!

  36. MOMFOG! OMG I just READ THIS! I am so sorry I hadn’t been here sooner! I saw the post in the off topic room. I hope you and your family are okay, and I know you’ve written a few more posts since all of this went down so I’m going to read those now. this is horrible, I can’t imagine what a loss like this feels like. I only hope that it has brought some blessings to your life in lieu of all the destruction… much love to you and yours. and if I remember correctly, I don’t live too far from you so if there is ANYTHING I can do to help, please contact me and ask. ♥

  37. Oh my Lord. Erin! I knew I’d missed out on you all while I was gone, but goodness gracious! This is honestly my biggest fear – I am so sorry for your losses. And existentially I’m happy you see what’s truly important, that you have each other and everyone’s stepping out to help you. But goodness. I am so sorry.

  38. Fires terrify me. They seem so angry and out of control. I can not imagine having my life turned upside down in one night. I am so sorry for the overwhelming loss and I admire the courage and dignity and faith with which you met it. Hope by now things are settled more and that you are all doing well moving past the trauma.

    • We’re settled in pretty well. Winter is coming and we have to make sure we’re properly clothed, but other than that, we have everything we need. On the upside, I get to go shopping with zero guilt.

  39. Thank you for having the presence of mind to come write about this when it happened, and Im so intrigued about what’s happened since then. I dont know if Ive ever been to your blog before, but I found you on the LALB DareToShare linkup. Great to meet you, and learn more about your perspective and personality through your storytelling of such a harrowing event!

    • I thought I should write about it. For one, it helps me process. For another, I knew I’d be MIA for a while and wanted to make sure my friends knew why. This blog and the people who read it are an important part of my life. That sounds crazy to some people, but it’s true nonetheless. Thanks for stopping by!

  40. i cannot imagine the devastation I would feel if something like this were to happen to my family. So glad that no one was home at the time. I found you through the Dare to Share link up.

  41. I’m reading this on October 29, so very interested to see how your family has rebuilt over the last few months. What a scary experience! I’m very nostalgic and would be devastated to lose all my diaries and mementos of my daughter’s babyhood (although she’s only 16 months old).

    • It’s weird how that doesn’t hit you right away, as you’re in survival mode. Over the last few months, I’ve been remembering little things I lost and it’s devastating.

  42. Wow. I’m just floored. I can see why this post generated so many comments, and I am going to now have to mine your blog to find out what money your husband was putting in his mouth, whether your dog came home (oh please, tell me the dog came home) and what started the fire in the first place.

    • Not sure if I gave an update on the dog. He did come back and he was leaning to the left. He apparently had some kind of stroke. A visit to the vet and some steroids and he’s mostly recovered now. He’s upright but still stumbles from time to time. He’s happy, though.

  43. Pingback: Residual fragility + giving up smoking = tears | Love versus Goliath : A Partner Visa Journey

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