Sunday mornings are meant to be low-key, quiet and relaxing.......right? About two weeks ago, the 22nd, Jim and I were doing some clean up and straightening in the garage at the lake, avoiding the tile grout job, when we got a call from Chris. He started out by saying that something had happened the night before but didn't call because he didn't want to worry us. My stomach took a flip and I headed into the house to sit down. He was home alone about 10:15 when he heard glass breaking in his apartment kitchen. The old style Chicago houses are designed in a long narrow pattern, the living room in the front and a hallway along the bedrooms leading back to the kitchen in the rear. Being in the living room, he had no idea what was going on so he went to check. The breaking glass sound was actually the glass exploding from a fire that was engulfing the rear decks of the house and the kitchen was igniting as he got there. Chris said he turned and ran down the front steps wearing what he had on. The fire station is literally next door, about 50 feet away with a parking lot between them, and someone had already reported seeing it, and trucks were arriving as he went downstairs.
Apparently, the fire started on the deck below from a smoldering cigarette that had not been put out properly, spread up the back of the building and across the attic of the house. Firemen battled the blaze for nearly an hour, the house next door was badly damaged as well. One fireman was taken to the hospital due to exhaustion. Someone at the scene asked Chris why he didn't stop to get his wallet and shoes. A fireman overheard them and told Chris he only had seconds to escape once the glass broke. It isn't a back draft but the air/smoke is igniting into huge flames when an explosion occurs. We are thankful we had the opportunity to shop for clothes and furniture.
You can imagine the damage that the fire may have caused, but the smoke and water damage is unbelieveable. They were able to salvage very little. Fortunately, some dishes that we had loaned them - our wedding pattern - came thru almost intact. A few pieces were lost but we can replace those at Replacements.com. Some clothes that were stored in a front closet survived. My washing machine has been running a lot, doing some things 3 and 4 times to get the smokey smell out of them.
Anne and Chris went into the place on Tuesday to survey the damage - overwhelming for both of them but they made it thru OK. Anne is interested in learning to sew and I had loaned her my old Bernina 830. They gave that up as lost, but found two quilts I had made and that had ended up at their place. One may be OK, the other not so good. Jim went back on Thursday with Chris and found some other things that were meaningful to them or us. He brought out the sewing machine (his birthday present to me for my 34th) and brought it home. It is rusting in places, but I am a firm believer in persistence. I doused it with WD-40, got out the Q-tips and some rags and went at it. It isn't very good yet, but it runs!!! As far as sewing on it, that will never happen, but the fact that it still runs is a good thing. I'll keep it for parts for the other 830 that I have at the lake.
Life is resuming in a new place and still within walking distance of the old place along with some quickly-found furniture from Craigslist . It has been a tough week for us; I can't imagine what they've gone thru.
The warm fuzzy from all of this is the wonderful kindness of people. Chris had to go to work on Monday following the fire on Saturday. He went wearing his brother's shoes, a pair of baggy pants found in his closet here at home and a shirt purchased at Wal-Mart. (Reports that had to be done with a Wed deadline). He spent the next 3 days doing what he needed to do and returned to work on Friday. Knowing that Chris had no clothes and is a HUGE Cubs fan, the CEO jokingly brought him a White Sox jersey........and a huge wad of cash that had been collected through out the company. There was $1500..... a very, very nice thing to do and something that Chris truly appreciated.
There are still a few odds and ends to be done, but in the grand scheme of things, life treated us with kindness......we will remember to pay it forward when it is our turn.