Thursday, April 4, 2013

We Can Clean That

Dressed in disposable clothes and respirator masks, our fire restoration crew poked through our home packing up anything they thought they could clean and save for us. Then the insurance agent entered our home and persuaded them to pack a little more. Suddenly, in her presence, things that moments before were "hazardous material," "toxic," and "trash" were pointed out with the exclamation "we can clean that!"

The fire restoration crew assured us that all things plastic or pressed wood were trash. The insurance agent begged to differ. She was positive that everything from TVs to assemble-yourself type furniture could be cleaned and restored as good as new. We were skeptical but didn't feel we had much choice. We would let them try and then we would work it out later with the insurance agent if needed.

It's later.

After 19 months, our stuff returned home. Please know that it did not take the fire restoration service 19 months to clean our things- it took 19 months for us to rebuild, move home, argue with the insurance company about what was being returned, and finally resign ourselves to getting back our crap. 

 And here it is.

We hand-picked a few sentimental items for the crew to take. The crew picked things to take. The insurance agent told them to take more. Then, the demolition crew shoveled the rest of our stuff out into several large dumpsters. The point is...we have no idea what is in those boxes. It's like Christmas. We have no idea what we're unwrapping and whatever it is, we haven't seen it in 19 months!   

The disappointing thing is, there isn't really that much of it. Each of those boxes contains on average about 5 items and 2 trees worth of packing paper. We've only opened a handful of boxes so far, but we can tell that we didn't really get much back. 

We left the furniture outside stinks. And it's junk. 

Take our media cabinet, for example. It doesn't look so bad, huh? The photo doesn't really show the whole picture. This cabinet was just a few feet away from the flames that destroyed our kitchen and part of the family room. The heat was so intense that the big screen TV above this cabinet melted. The over-stuffed chair beside the cabinet burned. 

Wood and intense heat are not friends. 

 The cabinet is no longer one solid piece of furniture. We could lose quarters in those gaps. I'm sure it's still sturdy, right?

They returned Little Bean's bed. It is made of pressed wood which the fire restoration company told us they didn't like to take because it crumbles apart, but the insurance agent insisted.

 Looks fine, yeah?

No worries though. The insurance agent paid for a new headboard. Shaking my head. We'll just put a new headboard on there and it should hold up just fine. As long as nobody breathes on it.

They also brought back her Dora The Explorer desk.  

Don't mind Dora's new complexion. She's been ozoned to remove smoke odors. She smells great! 

Remember the chair with the shrunken rungs from our visit to the warehouse ?

All fixed!

That's courtesy of our Glue-It-Back-Together policy! You should make sure you have that option written into your insurance policy in case your house ever catches on fire. I bet if we add a new coat of paint they'll be good as new. 

And the icing on the cake...

Our dining room table. Yes, it's been licked by flames. No, that's not camera glare on the table. That is actually part of the finish now. The Boy said, "well, you like rustic. It's rustic." Yes, Son. It is certainly rustic. If only we decorated in Char

Of course, it was not all bad. We've already unpacked things we never thought we'd see again. 

Yes, they cleaned a bottle of dirt for us. Not just any dirt, now! That is red dirt from Oklahoma collected on a family vacation. There are a few of these bottles of dirt and I almost cried when I unearthed them from the packing paper. 

When all of this fire recovery is in the distant past and the smell of burnt house has faded, these little tangible memories of better times will remain. 

Things we hope are in those boxes:
Great grandpa's wallet
Grandpa's wallet and sheet music
Grandpa's belt and work hat
Our wedding photos
Our Lil Water Maiden lamp

We'll keep you posted!   



  1. Good luck on this journey. Maybe this is the closure you need.

  2. Your insurance company, whoever they are, must be the biggest collection of bad judgment I have ever heard tell of. The amount they spent to "clean" and "repair" that stuff to the point of unusability is probably almost as much as just paying for it.

  3. Thank goodness Dora is back! :eyeroll: