First of all, everyone is okay. Both families made it out of their homes, including their pets, without any injuries. Unfortunately, both homes are total losses. Saturday morning when I found out about both fires I was mostly in shock, because what are the chances? What are the chances that two families that I know and am connected with would both have house fires on the same night? Let me tell you their stories.
Husband and wife living with their 2 handicapped foster children. I work with the husband at IU, which is his second job, and my dad works with the husband at his main job.
The fire started at about 10pm, while everyone was still awake. They heard a loud pop and smoke instantly began filling their home. From what they're guessing right now, it was an electrical fire that started in their electrical box, the loud pop they heard was their electrical box exploding. They live fairly close to town, so the fire department got there relatively quickly, but because of the explosion, their speed didn't make a huge difference. At the moment they haven't even been allowed back into their home, because an insurance representative couldn't be their until this morning. So they don't even know what, if anything, can be salvaged. From my understanding, it would be very little. Her purse was inside of her car, so she has identification, but no one else does. They also had no shoes or coats, which has since been remedied by some wonderful helping hands.
Honestly, until they are allowed back into their home today, that's the only information anyone has.
Husband and wife living with 2 of their 3 children, a high school senior girl and a 5th grade boy. I've known this family for years and years. Their oldest son was in my grade throughout school and we were involved in some of the same activities. The wife volunteers in my volunteer group I supervise at IU, so I see her very frequently and her best friend of 25 years works with me constantly, including yesterday.
The fire started between 12:30am and 1am, while everyone was sleeping. The fire alarms went off and woke the husband up, who then woke up everyone else. The fire started in their food stove chimney flue and the winds blew that fire into their attic, which took over the entire home. Unfortunately, they live very far from town, in an area with only a volunteer fire department and no fire hydrants. By the time the fire department got to the home, the family had been watching their home burn for a long, long time. Except for the 11 year old boy, who they had taken to the neighbors so he wouldn't have to watch. They were able to get back into what was left of their home Saturday morning. Perks of knowing your insurance agent personally since the 70's. They spent all day Saturday sifting through their home and managed to fill about 1/4 of a U-Haul truck of things that "might" be salvageable. They all made it outside with shoes on, but all they grabbed with them were their cell phones. They found the husband's wallet, but it is completely burned and melted into one piece. The wife found most of her purse, which had half of her unburned drivers license inside. She had to spent a half hour convincing the bank to let her withdraw cash from her account using the half of her drivers license and issue her a new card.
Everyone in the community has donated bags and bags of clothes and just keeps stuffing cash into their hands to help them out currently.
My heart hurts for these families.
**Update: A few of you asked me if you could help. I did find this morning that someone has set up a way to help Family #2, you can access that here. Do not, in any way, feel obligated to contribute. I'm just putting the link here for those who have asked and those who would like to help.**
Yesterday at IU while working the IU men's basketball game, because all of us working knew both families, we just kept saying "I don't even know what to say" over and over again. I know I said it no less than 20 times. Because what do you say? I've been close to grief and devastation and I had this same thought back then. What do you say? It doesn't matter how much you mean it when you tell them that you're so sorry for them, that sorry doesn't seem like enough. I still say it. I still said it. All weekend I said it. Because what do you say?
I originally thought "I can't imagine losing everything" until I realized that I could. I can absolutely imagine it, because it's happened. I mentioned it briefly on this blog in 2013, but the short version is that just shy of my 3rd birthday my home was destroyed in a tornado. My mom, dad, and I were lucky and we made it out injury free. Our home was quite literally in a million pieces, scattered across our yard, the road, our neighbor's yard, etc. We lost a lot. My dad's high school yearbooks are covered in dried mud, some pages stuck together forever. I don't have cute baby things to pass down to my kids, because those are long gone. We started over. I was a child, so I obviously don't remember how hard that must have been for my parents, but I've heard the stories.
I'm an adult now (ish, i'm adult-ish) so now when I think about losing everything, I get a little scared and I don't think it's weak to admit that.
Thoughts and prayers to these 2 families today and to anyone else starting over.