Thursday, October 29, 2009

A few boring days.

I have not been feeling very cheerful for the last few days. I think its just hormones so i'll leave it at that.

Yesterday was dull weather, today is sunny and chilly. Still waiting for that ryegrass to grow. From some experience in sprouting wheat grass for spring decorations and for the cat to chew on, i know that the roots take off first. So as long as the seeds are sending down roots enough to hold the soil it does not matter so much how green the top gets.

This might be a good day to try and start posting and explaining all the before and after photos of the yard.

I'll start with the pics of the house that burned down:

These pictures were taken on March 14, 2008.  I think the demolition i took pictures of came more than a few weeks after the fire.  But i don't seem to have any pics of just after the fire.  The cause had to be investigated as normal, but there was some question of whether the son had started it intentionally because of the carelessness surrounding the actual cause.  The mother who owned the house was wintering over in Florida at the time and had all but given the house to her son and his girlfriend. They weren't the nicest of people, smoking, drinking, drugging, yelling, fighting and generally unpleasant.  But we simply didn't associate since hubby and i both worked more than 40 hours a week.


The fire happened while i was still pretty messed from the car accident i had got into on New Year's Day. Three months later i was beginning too just be able to hobble around with a walker.  I had to take these pictures through the kitchen window and the side door window cause i could not get outside.
So, that's why some of them are not so great.

The front of the house was completely black and the smell of burned plastics was very cloying. The wind blowing stuff around could be heard at night and it really stressed out my daughter.  I took lots of these pictures so she could see how a house gets torn down.  I hoped it could add some closure for her, since the fire itself freaked her out very much. 
Her school is basically at one end of the road and during winter when the leaves are off the trees she can see the row of houses through her classroom window.  The students saw the blaze and knew she lived around there.

So, through the classroom window, she had a moment of shock before she saw that it was not our house, but it didn't help much knowing that her mom with the severely broken leg was right next to a burning house . At the time she didn't know for sure that her dad was home with me that morning.  I was also so freaked out as i was hobbling away from the house when the police insisted we evacuate.  Where it was March, we had been having icy weather, so everything was slick and bumpy. I had a police officer cheering me on as i nervously shuffled along. I was so scared that the firetrucks would come rumbling down the road and have to stop for me. lol

Another reason that the fire freaked my daughter out was because when she was about 3 years old, we were living in a townhouse apartment, and the neighbor there had a fire. We were awakened in the middle of the night to the smell of burning and that scary orange glowy color and the banging and popping sound of burning wood--- this fire was also in the winter.   So it had this flashback quality that was unnerving.

So for my daughter, coming home to see that the remains of the building had finally been knocked down and mostly carted away was a relief to her.

For me, it was a fascinating process.   I tend to find a lot of things to be very interesting. Especially when its something that thankfully, does not happen every day where you can see it.

The demo has gotten to where you can see the heat damage that was done to the next house. Their vinyl siding melted and buckled.  We were lucky that the fire happened on a virtually windless day. You know the saying about how March comes in like a lion?  Well.... March was being very lamb-like on that day, the surrounding days were as lionlike as ever.  Thank God. Because if it had been consistently windy, we and the other neighbors could have lost our homes as well.

In the next pictures, you will be able to see how close this house was to ours. But for now i will say that hubby an i were very grateful that our house was clad in asbestos siding.  We had a lot of heat bubbling,  enough to have to call on the insurance company.  Nobody wants unsealed asbestos around. But the asbestos certainly prevented any further damage that could have happened.  If we'd had vinyl at the time, it would have looked far worse.

This picture was taken from our side door, all that was between us and this house is the narrow driveway and maybe 3 feet of unpaved ground.  So, many kudos go to the firemen.

The yellow tape is actually about a foot away from the drive way and you can see the 'path' that we used to shovel to their monitor heater vent. We used to make sure to keep the vent clear of snow and ice, we started doing it for the lady that owned the house and continued to do it for her son and his pregnant girlfriend.

 Since we had to evacuate, we spent the rest of the day at my parents' house one town over. If i remember correctly, the fire happened around 11am, so my daughter had the better part of the school day to finish, but we were certain she had seen the fire from the classroom or at least the faculty had. So we stopped by to let everyone know that all was well, though the house was destroyed nobody was injured and we thought the best thing was for our daughter to finish the day like normal and we'd be at her Nana and Papa's until it was time to pick her up.

The fire was spectacular enough that it made the local news and for about 2 weeks after, people were detouring to the dead end road we live on to gawk. I have to say i was getting pretty annoyed with it because people were constantly turning around in our driveway and i never knew if it was someone coming to visit us or just rubberneckers.

We did use the small amount of insurance money that we got for the heat damage to the side of the house to help put up vinyl siding. We figured that since there was now little risk of fire damage from the next house, the following summer was the time to do it.  Where we had some extra money we opted to have fan-fold insulation installed underneath and it made a big difference in lowering heat loss and it also made the house quieter by blocking more outside noise.

So in a way i guess its an "all's well that ends well" sort of thing.  Eventually the investigation ended and the owner was given the insurance money. Not sure that she got very much because the house was in pretty bad condition, really only one inspection away from being condemned...  but it was her home, with lots of memories, photos and belongings inside, but i hope she got enough to soften the blow.

But it was pretty sad to see the remains of the house and wonder how the owner was getting along. Where she was living in Florida we didn't really get a chance to send any regards.

I think it was around May before we even considered asking if she was thinking of rebuilding or selling, and we had to go through other neighbors in order to contact her.

Ok, so that is how the yard became available for us in the first place.

1 comment:

Faith said...

Wow, two fires near you. That would be a little unnerving. I've not had that experience, only threats of wildfires regularly each summer, in Ca, where everything is as dry as tinder for 9 months out of the year.

I'm like you, interested in everything. I'd have done the same thing. I bet if you'd not been in a walker you'd have been inside the place, taking up close pics. LOL

Asbestos is good stuff in many ways. We always kept sheets of it in front of our fireplace in a house that had a very small hearth.

Good documentation. Should help your sweetie feel more in control over it.