Monday, November 17, 2008

Counting our blessings today

I have huge empathy for those folks in Los Angeles that have been burnt out today, because we had a house fire ourselves at 1 a.m. this morning. Luckily we are all safe and well, apart from a huge blister on DH's numb foot from fighting the fire with the garden hose. We called the ambulance to check us out for some smoke inhalation and shock just in case.

We had gone to bed late and I couldn't get comfortable. I thought I smelled smoke, but the SES has been doing hazard reduction (burning off) lately so I wasn't overly alarmed. Then I heard a few strange sounds and got up to investigate. We had lost power, though we had lights but as soon as I went into the kitchen I could see smoke haze and an orange glow through the window. I thought my DH's car was on fire but it was the back of the house. I called his name and shouted Fire! which brought everyone running outside. DH ran out and played the hose on the fire under the back of the house while I called 000 for the fire brigade.

Everyone evacuated safely, and luckily the hose was connected to the tap and not burnt through. The fire was brief but intense, and as you can see from this photo, the fibro sheeting is cracked as well as several windows. The worst part is that the fire was in a newer section of our home where the plumbing fittings were PVC above ground pipes through to the sewer line, and of course are all melted and no longer working. We have to use the old original bathroom and toilet, and this close to Christmas we aren't confident of having them fixed quickly.

I'd like to make these suggestions and urge everyone to take them seriously.

1. Make sure you have a hose handy in the yard at all times close to the tap, this definitely saved our home as the Fire Brigade was 10 minutes arriving

2. Be vigilant with worn electrical cords, overloading power points, and old appliances. We haven't established the cause of the fire but presume it was accidental.

3. Smoke alarms only work if the fire is IN the house, not under it until it is VERY well established. Ours only went off after we opened the doors. Your nose is the best detector. If you suspect a fire, investigate thoroughly.

4. Don't store wood, plastics or anything flammable close to the house or under it. We were lucky that the house was fairly clear underneath, but dry grass and few old plastic toys were enough to fuel the fire.

5. Talk through an emergency plan with the family. We were all adults and acted instinctively but children may not and a tragedy could result. The only thing we did wrong was to leave the doors open when we left, resulting in a smoke filled, smelly house.

This last picture shows the smoke damage from the flames around the back door where everyone rushed out, including Bob the studio cat. She was unhurt, but very frightened and had to be given pussy valium today to calm her down.

The smell is still pretty awful as we wait for the insurance assessor tomorrow, but the power is restored so at least I have the computer and TV back, I'm a creature of habit you see, VBG.

We are counting our blessings tonight and although I'm not religious I do believe in Karma. I must have done something right recently, VBG.


Geraldo Maia said...

Hello Christine,
It is a great pleasure to visit your nice and interesting blog for the first time.
Best wishes from Brazil:

Margaret said...

I am so glad you are safe and I hope there are no effects from inhaling the plastic fumes. I wish you luck and speed in your repairs.
Did you loose any stash? Should we send supplies?

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Oh my. I am SO glad you and your family are okay!!! What a frightening thing to have happen. It's so lucky that you were awake and smelled the smoke before it was too late.

Anonymous said...

Very pleased you, your family and the studio cat are fine, and hope the repairs run smoothly.
And hope the repairs don't interupt sewing time!

Mandy said...

I am so glad that you and your family are safe. (Including the cat.) Well done for acting so promptly - it obviously saved you from a much worse fire.
I do hope the repairs get done quickly.

Christine said...

Thankyou everyone for the good wishes and kind words. We are still waiting for the insurance assessor to come, but I have slowly started cleaning up inside the house. You'd be amazed at how penetrating smoke damage is, cupboards are sooty inside and everything plastic and fabric is smoke stained and smelly, YUK. Sewing is on hold for a few days, but deadlines won't wait too long. A clean fresh house will have to wait for a week or so.

NormaH said...

How grateful we all are that everyone is safe ... including the cat!
Not only do I have a hose hooked up to the outside faucet but I have two small fire extinguishers in the house. I'm also trying to de-clutter, something I had to put on hold while being a full-time caregiver.
May God continue to watch over you and bring you peace.

Erica said...

Christine that's an awful thing to happen! I'm so glad you were awake and smelt the smoke before it had a chance to take hold.
Tom has only just replaced all our smoke alarm batteries ...I got cranky because they went off when I made's not like I do anything dangerous... like burning tyvek.. or singeing organza with a candle...or blowing up the iron..

Doreen G said...

Goodness me Christine I go away for a few days and this is what you get up to.We have just returned from Melbourne and I am checking my bloglies feed and found this.
I am glad all is ok --I have been in a small house fire and know what you mean about the smell and stuff.
Take care my friend and I will keep good thoughts going for you.

Sharon said...

Oh Christine I am so very sorry. But I am glad you and your family are ok. Wish I was close by to lend you a hand. Please take care. Sharon ( the non duster)

Lindi said...

Smoke damage is so awful, isn't it? But it sure is better than flame damage! Glad you are all safe. Hope everything is sorted out soon, for you.

Sue said...

Christine, so glad that you are all safe and sound. What a shock it must have been. I dread the thought of a fire and breathe a sigh of relief every autumn. Hope your insurance claim is sorted soon.