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Every homeowner's nighmare

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Czechman01, Jul 15, 2007.

  1. A few months ago I had to put a hole through a wall in my house to pass a wire through and I discovered two water lines in there. It was such an unlikely place for water lines all I could do was shake my head and think "what a STUPID place for water lines".

    On Wednesday, July 11th my home took a direct lightning strike. I was standing in the kitchen when it happened. I did not hear a thing, but a large shower of sparks sprayed out from my range vent hood much like a cheap special effect in a B-movie. The entire house was now filled with a very light wispy mist, not quite like smoke, and the most peculiar odor... like an electrical fire but not quite.

    Some lights were still on, some were off. A quick check at the circuit breakers showed some breakers off, some on. The odor was everywhere in the house... then there was another odor - burning wood. The house was on fire.

    I called 911. Units began arriving within a couple minutes, and they kept coming until the street was filled with fire engines, both volunteer and paid from 3 towns. Police blocked off half the streets in town.

    I knew that I wasn't going to lose the house, my only concern was for my cats. But the firemen were calm and methodical and while they were chain sawing their way through my floor to get to the fire, one was handing me my cameras, lenses and printers which were in the closet where they were cutting.

    I'll never make a PJ because through it all I didn't even think to pick up one of those cameras and take one shot of my house on fire.

    Long story short... the lightning entered the house trough a gas pipe and ignited adjacent framing in the crawl space. Unfortunately, all of my utilities enter the house at that point so I was "dead in the water" without electricity, phone, Internet, AC and water. Fortunately, my house had survived serious damage.

    Part 2
    Life in small-town America

    The evening of the fire, the local Chief of Police offered his home to me if I needed a place to stay.

    First thing next morning he showed up at my door asking if I needed anything. All I could think of was ice and coffee. He sent an officer to the EMS Station to get ice while he went for coffee and pastries at the local restaurant - they didn't charge him. We had breakfast on my back porch and talked about his recent drive-vacation on Route 66.

    I also lamented that I wish I had running water to shower and clean up. He made a call and the town Maintenance Man came out and patched my water line.

    During the course of the day neighbors came calling, asking if they could help. The Police Chief came back twice to check on me. We talked for quite some time about the way things used to be. For me, things here are still much the way I remember them being.

    I called a local Electrical Contractor. The owner showed up 10 minutes later with a repair crew an hour behind him. Within 8 hours they had inspected my entire system and restored power to some parts of the house including some lights and my refrigerator. The local HVAC contractor pronounced my main AC unit officially deceased but got the one for my guest apartment working.

    Within 24 hours I had lights, water, refrigerator and a place to go to escape the heat.

    One of my computers, along with all of my hard drives (photos) was no more than 3 feet from where the lightning entered the house. They were plugged into a Belkin UPS. Nothing plugged into that unit was damaged. The Belkin is toast, but it died doing its job.

    My other computer was 50 feet away and all computer equipment in that area was plugged into a Belkin UPS. Nothing plugged into that unit was damaged. That Belkin protected my equipment and survived.

    My range hood, TV, stereo and phones are dead.

    Within 48 hours a local phone technician had all of my phones, DSL and computer network back on line.

    My cats and I are doing just fine, but will be without hot water and AC in the main house for about two weeks... I can handle that. All things considered, I'm a VERY lucky man. If I hadn't retired in April, I would have been at work and my house would have burned to the ground.

    So, what does that part about the "stupid" place to put a water line have to do with all of this? The Fire Chief told me that if it hadn't been for the fire melting through those lines and them spraying water on the fire and surrounding areas, I would be facing a "serious loss".

    My mother used to say that the Good Lord watches out for fools and drunks.

    I haven't been drunk in 40 years.

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 15, 2007
  2. haze2


    Mar 18, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    You lucky fool :biggrin:!!

    I too remember small town life and often think back to how wonderful it was. It sounds like you are still living the dream of small town America.

    I had a similar, but less catastrophic, experience with a lightening strike. It fried a large tree next to the house and came through the house wiring to zap my printer and phones. Fortunately all my other electronics were on an APS protector and were saved.

    Glad to hear you and the felines are fairing well and I hope all gets back to normal soon.
  3. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Wow Woody, I am so sorry for your loses, but I am happy to know that you were served well by your community. In the fire service, there is much more than putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. While we are handling ventilation and extinguishment, we are just as active removing and/or tarping the owner's cherished possessions. Loosing a structure is a firefighter's worse nightmare, there is no honor in saving someone's concrete foundation...but it is also a nightmare to allow someone's cherished possessions to be damaged or destroyed because of a lack of proactive salvaging. I'm sure that you have offered your thanks to the crews for working hard on your behalf, those simple words of thanks go a long way to those who respond for the benefit of someone that they don't even know.

    I hope that the re-building process goes swiftly and efficiently to minimize your inconviences.
  4. Woody,
    Sorry to hear of the mishap. Glad you are O.K.
    Lighting can really do some serious damage.
  5. McQ

    McQ Just your average, everyday moderator. Moderator

    All I can say is you live in one hell of a nice community, the way everyone was taking care of you. That is the kind of news that needs to make the news broadcasts.

    Glad to know that overall, everything that matters is OK and there were no injuries, and the "things" that were damaged can be replaced.

    I live in a small, close knit town, and can only hope for the same care should something ever happen to family.
  6. ga_d_five-o


    May 13, 2006
    NE GA, USA
    Woody, I am so sorry for your beautiful home, but glad to hear you and your cats are alright.
    Prayers for a quick clean-up and recovery.
  7. I'm in the process of arranging a complimentary photo shoot of the Fireman and Police. The least I could do.
  8. Glad to hear you and your pets are ok Woody. That 'small town' sounds like a great spot :cool: 
  9. Sorry to hear of the fire but it sounds like things are working out well. Glad that the critters and important belongings were undamaged.

    I had a similar experience several years ago, but without all the friendly community assistance... in fact not a single neighbor seemed to give a damn.

    Lucky for me I too was home, albeit out in the barn. I heard some glass break and thought "what have those darned cats done now?".
    When I looked at the house I saw smoke pouring from a bedroom window.

    After the fire was extinguished I went into the house terrified that I was going to be retrieving the bodies of my 5 cats.
    Miraculously they had all found low spots to hide and the only harm was them being black with soot.

    I wish you good luck with the rebuilding and dealings with the insurance people.

  10. Hi Woody

    I think you should thanking God twice.. of course, once is for how fast and fine your community operated to save you and your stuff from the fire. This is a kind of "closeness" often so rare among human beings, all so busy with "things" and not "people" near them. Aside from that, probably from now on you will be remembered as the "man of the fire on July 2007" and people, unconsciously, will behave even more kindly toward you even if they probably won't notice that. You could even get some invitation to local tv show for such happening, not to mention who knows how free coffees or donuts at the corner's bar..

    I hope for you the best has still to come.. :) 
  11. Oh, I forgot that part... It's been almost 4 days since I called to file a claim and I have YET to receive one phone call from either my State Farm agent or State Farm. I've spoken to them, but still no Adjuster has shown up.

    I've received RETURN calls from my agent's office, but not a single call from him showing any concern for my well being or State Farm's responsibility.

    I should have gotten my Home Owner's insurance from an Insurance Company with an office in Youngsville.

    I'll be looking into that on Monday.
  12. Wow Woody I am so glad that you, your cats, and even your house made it through this. That is such a neat story about the help that you received and the people that went out of the way to make sure you were OK. There were some definite blessing amidst the turmoil. Take care my friend.
  13. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Wow Woody
    A nightmare for sure.
    Glad you and most things and kittys are ok.

    You live in a community we all wish we had
  14. Woody just glad to hear that you and pets are ok.
    Living as you do in a wonderful community of people offering support certainly helps in dealing with the ordeal.
    I wish you the best as you repair/rebuild.
  15. Woody,

    Glad you are okay and no major loss occured. You sir, have just put small towns on my radar screen again - used to spend time in one when I was a kid but loved the city more... Well you are startng to change my mind.

  16. What a relief that you and your cats are ok, and that most of the damage has been quickly repaired. I love small towns for the very community spirit that you described. If I have it my way, I'll never live anywhere else.
  17. Doug


    Jan 17, 2006
    East TN
    gut wrenching, yup. heart warming, yup, and most of all good clean livin! Woody, happy that things turned out this way for you, as we all know, it could have been much much worse. I'm reminded of a friend's loss of home and pets here.

    What an interesting twist of irony that the water lines you were so critical of their location came to the rescue! Put them back in the same place, whatever you do!

  18. sypher


    May 24, 2006
    Cougar Country
    Thank you for sharing that with us. With all the negative and bad things we hear about on a daily basis, it is nice to hear that people still care about one another even if they don't "know" each other. To bad stuff like this isn't reported on in the news more often.
    Good luck, and hopefully your house will be up and running at fullspeed soon!
  19. MarkM


    Dec 20, 2005
    Tampa Florida

    WOW!!! glad to hear you and the cat's are fine :smile:

    :eek: :eek:  ....entered through the gas pipe....:eek: :eek:  Holy Explosion Batman!!!:eek:  glad that didn't happen.

    Hope once the insurance company gets started that all goes smooth.

  20. Note to self, buy a Belkin UPS.

    I'm sorry to hear about the fire. What really ticks me off though is the insurance company, "in good hands" my a**! I would definitely go high and to the right with that adjuster.

    Nothing irks me more than paying big money for insurance you hope you never need, especially to companies that claim they really really care about their customers, only to get treated like crap when you need them. Heaven for bid you're late with your monthly bill though, nothing but emails, phone calls and mail until you pay up.
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