Friday, May 18, 2012

Life Changing

For being the first post I have done in over a year, this isn't the one it should be. On May 15th around 3:30pm the lives of our family changed. Our home of 7 years was destroyed in a fire. Tiffany had returned home from dropping off the babysitter around 2:30pm and put Callie to sleep in her room upstairs. Tiff and the 3 boys were upstairs in our bedroom watching tv and playing on the iPad.  Tyler smelled the smoke and told Tiff. She walked into the hallway and could see black smoke all downstairs. Tiffany woke Callie from her nap and took her into our room with the other children and called 911. A few moments later, a police officer came into the smoke filled house and led Tiffany and the kids out. Tiffany held one twin and took one of the boys by the hand and the police officer took Riley and the other  boy by the hand and went down the stairs.  Tiffany's purse was on the washing machine in the kitchen where the fire was started. The police officer ran back inside to the burning house to recover her purse. Everybody made it out safely, but the police officer had to go to the hospital for minor smoke inhalation. We are truly thankful for the courage and determination of Officer Pacheco of the Monrovia Police Department. He is an amazing man, who had the courage to enter into a house, unable to see and know the layout of the house, to rescue a family and belongings. I (Cree) was on my way home from work in San Bernardino, about an hour away from home, when I received the call. I tried to make it home as fast as I could, but some california drivers don't know that the right lane is for slow drivers. Once outside and safe, we finally realized the magnitude of the fire and response. 2 cities responded (Monrovia and Arcadia), 8 fire trucks, 6 police cars, 1 motorcycle officer, fire chief, fire battalion, traffic control, 1 ambulance, 2 helicopters, news reporters, fire investigator, insurance adjuster, half the street closed, and numerous spectators. The fire is still undetermined how it started but is narrowed down to the kitchen near the stove. Fire inspector still needs to remove the stove, hood, and electrical outlets in the kitchen to get a better idea of cause. We were able to go into the house after the fire department was sure the fire was out and it was safe to enter.  It is amazing how the fire wasn't what caused the most damage. The smoke and soot from the fire destroyed every inch of our home. Even the smallest nooks and crannies were infiltrated by smoke. A bottle of tylenol, with the lid on in a medicine cabinet upstairs away from the fire, had the smell of smoke on the pills. Linens in a closed closet had signs and discoloration of smoke between the two sets of sheets. Anything that was plastic has melted or is warped. Lamp shades upstairs started to fold in on themselves from the heat. The smell of smoke seeped into the wood of anything it could. Our bed, the children's beds, night stands, book cases, books, shelves, anything it could, was permeated with the smell of smoke. Pictures were melted to the inside part of the glass. Luckily most of our photos were digital and can be replaced. Tiff, Celia, Shauna and Mike Miller, and other family members have been helping sort and clean items nonstop in hopes to save them. Tiffany and crew did 18 loads of laundry the day after the fire at a local laundry mat. Apparently vinegar, although smells horrible and is good for easter eggs, gets the smoke smell out of clothes when put in the washing machine. Pretty cool, just hope we don't have to use this tip again. We are thankful for all of the prayers that have been said for us and the generosity sent our way. We have had many many offers of children's clothes, but we have been able to clean most of theirs. Thank you though. Although we are without a home, we are not homeless. We are staying at the Reeds in Duarte until we are able to get back on our feet. We still have each other and everybody is healthy. We have the love of our family and the gospel to keep our heads up. We will keep you updated with our progress as this all unfolds. Thanks to everybody who has helped, is helping, and will help.