It started out as just another busy morning, that Tuesday in July. I
had gotten ready to go into work for a few hours before catching a
business meeting. Kathie, my wife, and Jennifer, my daughter, had just
come back from the orthodontist, where Jennifer had her braces
removed. I said goodbye to them and told them I would see them later
that afternoon to go out for dinner and a movie. I left at 8:00 a.m.
while Kathie and Jennifer left the house to doing some back to school
shopping an hour and half later.
My day was moving along quickly and I soon found myself at my
meeting. We were just wrapping up the discussion when I received a
phone call that would change my perspective on life. It was my
workplace calling me to tell me that a neighbor just called and my
house was on fire! I was in a state of shock and disbelief I quickly
grabbed my things and raced out to my car. As I approached the Idaho
Stateline on the freeway, I could see the black smoke billowing up
several miles away. I suddenly remembered that Kathie and Jennifer
might still be home. When I called, I received no answer. Still in
shock, I could not remember my wife''s cell number so I phoned work.
They had already informed Kathie and Jennifer about the fire. They had
left to go shopping, which turned out to be 30-40 minutes before the
fire began. As soon as I heard they were okay, I breathed a sigh of
relief Almost as quickly I remembered that our dog, Patches, was still
at home. I concentrated on driving and got to our house as fast as
As I turned the comer onto our street, I witnessed a sight I would
like to forget. My house engulfed in flames and surrounded by fire
trucks, television trucks, and neighbors from all around. As I was
exiting my car, a neighbor lady came running up to me in tears. She
hugged me and expressed how sorry she was about our loss. I walked
over to witness this horrible sight and saw that the fire had spread
over to the neighbor''s house. The mental fog continued. The next thing
I saw was a reporter sticking a camera in my face to interview me. I
just looked at the camera and answered his questions. Then I regained
some sense of reality and focused on finding my dog. I talked to
several neighbors and discovered that Patches was safe in a yard down
the street. I was so overcome with joy! I ran over and got her out of
the yard and hugged her like there was no tomorrow. Soon, Kathie and
Jennifer were there to witness the awful sight and we consoled each
other as we watched the firefighters to their best to put out the
flames. The fire boat arrived and was a major factor in knocking down
the fire. After what seemed forever, and the combined effort of five
fire departments the fire was out.
Going back into the house was an eerie experience for all of us.
The garage was totaled and the storage above the garage was vaporized.
All of my wife''s family pictures and our family Christmas decorations
were stored there. Along with my entire daughter''s stuffed animals and
childhood toys. The downstairs was a disaster! All of the rooms had
been scorched and the television and computers were literally melted.
The rest of the house was considered a total loss due to the smoke and
water damage. When we went upstairs and into the hall before my
daughter''s room we had a small plastic cross hanging on the wall.
During the fire it fell off and was gone except the imprint of it
remained on the wall from the smoke. Jennifer''s closet was behind that
wall where the cross was and right next to the garage. Amazingly
enough, all her clothes and items in that closet were not destroyed.
In our bedroom across from Jennifer''s room, our items including
pictures and some clothes and other valuables were okay. Kathie''s oak
desk was in that same hall and it contained all of our important
papers-- all were saved! After seeing this the remains of our house,
we all felt God''s presence was in our house during the fire and was
protecting our vital belongings. Here we were experiencing most
people''s worst nightmare yet there was a strange calm and peace that
was settling over our family. We all realized that losing some of our
family heirlooms and pictures hurt yet all of the other stuff was just
that -stuff. We had each other no one was hurt and even our dog was
okay! Through the prayers of friends and neighbors God was comforting
us. I can''t explain the feeling, even in the midst of despair, we felt
that we would get through all of this. I was so impressed by my
daughter and how she was handling the whole ordeal. We had a heart to
heart talk about what had happened and what would be in store for us.
Her faith shone through and I was amazed at her positive attitude.
I had managed to call my insurance agent in the midst of the fire and
he was there within 30 minutes and the claims adjuster arrived 2 hours
later with finances for food, clothing and lodging. The neighbors were
incredible; everyone wanted to help any way they could. One neighbor
lent me his truck and another was leaving on a trip and let us stay in
their house for several days so we could get our bearings. We had
churches find out about our fire and they sent food and gift
certificates to restaurants, toiletries and vital clothing. At my
business, there was an outpouring by my customers. Everything from
food, pots and pans, towels silverware, cards, gift baskets and other
items! We were literally overwhelmed! At times like this, it is so
wonderful to see how people come together to help each other. By the
end of the week we had many people in Post Falls, Ogden, Utah and
Yorba Linda, CA praying for us. Wrth this support our family was able
to get through the hard times and move on with getting things put back
together. Praise the Lord for bringing people together to help each
other in times of crisis!
It has been four months since the fire and we are about to move back
to our remodeled home and start a new life there. Like a forest fire
is necessary to remove old growth and debris so the forest can be
renewed, so has this fire cleansed our lives.
Through this life
event God has taught us several lessons. Things are only things and
you can''t take them with you (believe me it''s true). Our time on this
earth is special and we should spend more time with family and friends
and be there in times of need. We thank our Lord for the comfort and
support he has given us through our family, friends and this wonderful
community. May God bless you all!