Rebecca had a fire in her home and worked with her insurance company, as well as a water and smoke clean-up company, a fabric cleaning company, and a contractor, to repair the damage the fire caused.
What I Learned Recovering From a Home Fire
people found Rebecca's experience helpful.
It was a typical Monday morning: getting ready for work at 4:30 a.m., switching out laundry in the dryer, and then hopping into the shower to finish getting ready. Suddenly, my husband called out that he smelled smoke.
Getting out of the shower and following his voice, I found him in the laundry room with flames coming from behind the dryer. Thinking quickly, my husband grabbed the fire extinguisher from the kitchen and sprayed the flames. It looked like the fire was out, but after a few minutes I went back into the laundry room to check and saw flames coming from under the house.
First I woke up my son and got the pets out of the home; next, I called 911 for the local volunteer fire department. While I was busy calling for help, my sixteen-year-old son, under the direction of my husband, crawled under the house with the fire extinguisher and sprayed the flaming insulation and burning wood.
Minutes later, the volunteer fire department showed up and put out the rest of the fire. They told us the quick use of the fire extinguisher saved our home. With huge fans placed throughout the house to suck out the smoke, the next step was calling out from work and beginning the process of contacting the insurance company.
One of my worst nightmares had just occurred. I had never experienced a house fire and I had no idea what to do next. Fortunately, our insurance company was helpful and assigned us an adjuster immediately. They were able to schedule a water and smoke cleanup crew to come to assess our home; we were also put in touch with a fabric cleaning company who would be coming to take care of the fabrics affected by smoke damage.
Little did we know, the cleanup crew would throw away almost everything in the laundry room/pantry. Since this was where the fire started, all contents were considered a loss. The crew inventoried everything in the room, including each box of Jell-O, bottles of cleaning solution, and a container of cotton balls and Q-tips. I did not realize all the items that were stored in that room, and after looking over the list of items, I was shocked. Some of the items – Christmas cookie cutters, 31 brand totes, lunch boxes, coolers, and Pampered Chef items – would be expensive to replace. Once the list was made, I then had to list the price paid and how long I had owned the item. This was not an easy task. After many hours of looking up prices online, I was able to submit a claim for those household goods.
The next surprise came with the fabric cleaners. We were told to gather some of our clothes for an expedited cleaning. The other items would take a couple weeks to get back. After packing up a bag for each person in the family, the fabric cleaners came through the house and packed up every piece of fabric in our home. They went through closets, under the beds, and in dresser drawers. They took the curtains, blankets, and pet beds. We had to borrow sheets and towels and pot holders from family friends just to get by. My son forgot to set aside his tennis shoes and had to wear slippers to school.
For three weeks, we went without these basic necessities. Although being without the items for such a long time was difficult, receiving the items back into the house was almost as bad. The items came packed in over 50 large boxes with dry cleaning tags pinned to each item. Even months later, I am still finding tags on my clothes and other fabric items. Just this portion of the clean-up cost over $10,000.
The final step in getting our lives back to normal was repairing the laundry room/pantry and the hall bathroom. First we hired a contractor to come in and give us an estimate on the price. We then had to work with the insurance company to determine how much of the cost would be covered. After about five weeks of hauling clothes to the laundromat and walking around the toilet sitting in the middle of the living room, my home repairs were finally complete.
If there was a silver lining to this home fire, it was that the final product was even better than what we started with. I was able to redesign the laundry room, and since the clutter was cleared out, there was even more free space. I was also able to upgrade my hall bathroom to include a jetted tub and rain shower in the bath.
The advice I would give to anyone who may be experiencing this type of loss – or even better, who hasn’t yet experienced a home fire and wants to be prepared – is to take an inventory of your items. If your fabrics have to be cleaned, make sure you keep towels, pot holders, socks, and coats as well as your regular clothes. Finally, be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone and email dealing with paperwork.