I don't really even know how to start this post. I thought by now I would be posting about trying to get settled in our house and sharing my beginning attempts of decorating. Instead I'm going to tell you about how our brand new house caught fire and how I realized that after months of going on and on about the house, that is in fact just a house.
Saturday, while Brad was working I spent the day unpacking boxes, hanging photos and putting up the drapes I had been waiting months to hang. My dad came over and swapped out a few pieces we needed to convert our gas stove to use propane. After he finished he turned on our new propane line and we tested the stove. Everything looked great.
Sunday morning we woke up and I began getting the boys ready for church. I debated staying home, out of exhaustion from unpacking on Saturday but went anyways since I was committed to work in the nursery. We went to church and then ran a few errands afterwards. When we arrived home there was a horrible smell, one I may not have noticed had we not left the house.
My immediate thought was that the dog had been going through the trash and had a diaper strewn about. I searched everywhere but came up with nothing. I narrowed the area down to the living room but still could not pin point where it was coming from. As we waited for Brad to get off work, we went to my parents house for dinner where I told them about the smell. My sister suggested that maybe a mouse had gotten into one of our sofas while in storage and possibly died there. It seemed gross yet reasonable, so when Brad got home that evening I shared my theory with him.
We began attempting to hunt down the smell again and realized that the fireplace smelled a bit. I asked him what propane smelled like out of concern for a leak and he said that he smelled it when they installed the tank the day before and that it did not smell like a dead animal. With that in mind we came to the conclusion that some creature had crawled in the chimney and died. We thought we would light a fire to get rid of whatever was hiding up there. I shake my head at myself as I type this.
As our boys sat on the couch watching TV five feet away, Brad lit a fire and immediately was engulfed in flames. They went in a wave onto the floor, up the walls and roaring into the fireplace. Brad's pants and arm caught fire and he quickly beat the flames out. The fire that hit the wood floor receded and thankfully I didn't yet have a rug down that would have spread the fire along the floor.
Brad instantly knew there was a problem with the propane and ran down stairs to shut off the valve. In the five seconds it took for him to run down to the basement, I saw that the flames were in the cracks in between the fireplace box and the walls surrounding it. He had a fire extinguisher in his patrol car and ran to get it. We quickly extinguished the fire and called the fire department to come check everything.
I got the boys dressed in warm clothes and shoes and waited for the firemen to make the two second drive down the street to our house. I will be honest, at this point we somewhat laughed about our bad luck and the fact that we had to call the fire department after living there for only three days, it hadn't yet sunk in at how lucky we were to be alive.
The fire department arrived with four trucks, an ambulance and a Sheriff's Deputy. They rushed in and began checking the entire house for any remaining fire and concluded that the fire had been put out when Brad extinguished it. Everything was double checked with heat guns and two fire trucks were dismissed to leave.
(Archer loved all of the visitors at his house!)
As the firemen were gathering their gear, Brad and I explained the situation to my dad, who had quickly rushed over after hearing the news. As I stood in front of the fireplace, I saw blazing orange flames strike up from in between the drywall and brick in the unfinished fireplace surround. We yelled for the firemen and they came running in with axes. The drywall above the mantle was shredded through and everything was sprayed with some sort of flame retardant. The power was shut off due to the electrical wires disintegrating from the fire.
I knew we had a serious problem when I saw the fire fighters unrolling the hoses from the truck... The flames had quickly spread through the wall, disintegrating the wall studs and insulation. It traveled upstairs through the chimney and downstairs through the floor. The house was filled with smoke and I began grabbing photos and anything else near by so that it didn't get wet if the hoses were used or burnt if the fire spread. The sound of axes slamming the walls of my house is not a sound I will soon forget.
Thankfully the firemen did everything they could to not use the hoses. They were amazing and constantly checking on the boys and me to make sure we were okay. They even apologized that they had to tear up our new home. I will be baking for them on a regular basis!
As I sat on the porch holding my boys in my lap, I knew that through all of the disaster, that we were truly blessed. We were all alive and uninjured, which is the only thing that matters. I realize this is nothing compared to the devastating house fires that many people experience. Keating was a bit shaken up from the whole experience. He kept asking why they were tearing down our new walls and asking me if his bed was burning. Archer loved all the action and didn't really understand what was going on.
The fire inspector arrived and began investigating the scene. (Its horrible when your house becomes a scene) He checked the propane tank and told us that half of our previously full tank had leaked out in one day. A tank that should last us a year was half gone. Praise the good Lord that most of the gas was traveling up the chimney and not into the house or the house would have blown up. He also shared that propane in massive amounts begins to smell rancid... Like a dying animal. That would have been nice to know.
It was really frightening how fast a fire could spread and get out of control. A house that the firemen had checked with infra red cameras and established there to be no more threat, was quickly engulfed in thick black smoke. I thank God that we were awake and not sleeping when this happened! It took over 4 hours for them to make sure the fire was completely out and that nothing would start back up again.
The fire spanned all three floors of the house, from the ceiling of the basement up to the 3rd floor in the boy's playroom. I only took photos of the damage downstairs, but in the hole to the right is where the propane line is located, that we believe is faulty. The cracks on the sides of the bricks are where I saw the flames glowing behind. Thankfully that portion of our fireplace was still not trimmed out or we would not have known until it was too late. I was very surprised at how the sheet rock was hardly damaged when the inside of the walls were burnt to a crisp.
I can't stress enough, that we are so blessed and fortunate. God was certainly looking out for us on Sunday night! Our insurance company has already sent a crew out to begin cleaning our belongings of smoke and gas fumes. We are told that the entire wall between the living room and master bedroom will need to be replaced along with some of the walls upstairs. The hardwoods and carpet were badly damaged and will be replaced as well as the hearth because the bricks can trap smoke and carcinogens. We have been told that the entire process should take 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, we are staying back at my parent's house until everything is cleaned up.