My Mom's home caught on fire last week.
Thank God for nosy neighbors that saw the smoke and called the fire department.
They found her unconscious in her smoke-filled home and pulled her out to safety. They rescued one of her cats, the other one has gone AWOL.
As soon as I got an email that she was at the hospital, I left the kids with the husband and got there as fast as I could. I found her in the emergency room, alert and alright, albeit smelling of smoke and with sooty hands. She had smoke-inhalation issues and they had her hooked up to oxygen, IVs and other things to discharge the chemicals from the smoke out of her body.
I went back to her home to deal with the fire marshall and damages. I imagined what the house would look like on the way over. It was 10 times worse than I imagined.
Her home is unlivable now. The fire department broke almost every window and ripped out both the front door and the back french doors. Her things were tossed outside and some was burned but most are destroyed from the water used to put the fire out. I'm not a firefighter, but I wonder if it was really necessary to rip the doors off like that. Broken windows I can understand, but to rip the doors off the hinges?
Seems it was an electrical fire. The fire investigator quizzed me on the location of certain things, and it looks like, from my Mom's description and the questions of the investigator, it started in the foyer. That's where most of the damage is.
We're now working on getting everything out of the house. Sorting through the destroyed items and picking out what is still good. It's surreal to see a pair of shoes fused together. Amazing how water can melt magazines into a mushy puddle. A relief to see vintage Pyrex bowls withstand the heat, the soot and char washing right off.
My Mom does not want to return to the house to live in. We set her up in the apartment we have above the garage and we are helping her in every way that we can-- making calls to the insurance company, working with the reconstruction people, the doctors and her work. I'm washing all the clothing that we salvaged and her pile of wearable clothing is slowly growing.
She grieves over the books she cannot save and worries about her missing cat. She says her life is falling apart and I tell her that things will work out, that this is a glitch and it can be fixed. We hope the home will sell quickly after we get it fixed up and she does not lose too much money on it. She worries about her future. I tell her that the most important thing is that she is alive, that she is not burned, that she is here with us, safe. Money is money and stuff is stuff, all replaceable. Her life is more precious to me and I am thankful I didn't lose my Mommy.
Hug your families. Be thankful that you have a roof over your heads and food in your bellies. Check the wiring in your home and make sure things are plugged in properly, or if it's not in use, unplug it. Make sure your house insurance is up to date. Tell your children about the dangers of playing with fire. Count your blessings, I know I am.