The first of September started out a very nice day, one of those 'Indian Summer' days. It was my friends 40th birthday and we had spent some time preparing for it, all the usual ageist jokes, steradent and false teeth pots, hair nets, rollers and tena lady, a celebratory courgette I think you get my drift!!
So Far so good. At lunch time we decided to go out for a celebration bite to eat. Parked, noting that it was free for the first hour as long as you displayed a ticket, which we did. We promptly forgot all about the time limit. After lunch we headed for the the cars only to find that I had been awarded a parking ticket, just the £80, reduced to £40 if I paid up within the fortnight. My friend was parked in the next row, with the same time on her ticket and she did not get one, so I was victimised!! Bastards!!
I went back to work, I had just arrived at a meeting when I got a text from my other half to say that I should come home as there was a problem. The problem turned out to be a fire in my parents house. I was so shocked, I am not sure how I actually got home.
When I arrived the road was blocked off by three fire engines and there were loads of people out 'looking'
The fire was out, and I found out that Mum and Dad were out and had not arrived home as yet. I spoke to the fireman in charge and it seems that the fire had started in the kitchen, the hob was on very low and a washing basket had been left on the edge touching the ceramic hob. The fire had smoldered for around three hours before igniting and setting fire to the kitchen. The damage is huge.
The fire damage is confined to the kitchen, which was in a terrible state. The rest of the house is badly damaged by the smoke and water. What I had failed to understand before now is that the smoke is fatal. I knew in my head that it was, but seeing it close up I can see its lethal. Everything in the house is covered with a thick layer of sooty blackness, which covers everything and absolutely stinks.
Apart for the obvious distress of the whole incident, how do you replace a life time of memories? All those bits and pieces that you forget you have until you no longer have them.
So all you can do is concentrate on counting your blessings, any other afternoon they would have been at home in their armchairs enjoying and afternoon nap.They had a fire alarm, which was how the neighbours discovered the fire, but the firemen said that the fumes were lethal so, alarm or not they may never have woken up. So I subscribe to the theory that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, so we are all a little bit stronger now.
The other 'strange ' thing is how fire works. Although the kitchen was severely damaged there were some things hardly touched. The bottles above were singed and melted but not destroyed. They were a couple of feet from the main fire.
Moving on we have got Mum and Dad in a hotel in town, so they are close. The insurance company (Direct Line) have been very good. They sent someone out the same night to start the assessment process. They have appointed a loss adjuster and a cleaning company. Both have now been and have explained how they will try and save all of the precious and sentimental things, but will have to dump the rest.
We have been told that to get the house livable again will be around 4 to 6 months, it needs a complete rewire, new central heating system, new kitchen and bathroom, new stair lift along with all of the rest of the contents.
I think things have started to sink in now and its been impossible to find anywhere rented for them to stay. We are hoping that the insurance company allows them to stay in hotel accommodation for the duration. We don't have any spare space here and Mum can't do the stairs to get to the bathroom, so we have ordered a 'portaloo' for the back garden, so she can spend the day around here and carry on with her hobbies. Dad can also stay and still look after his garden.
I am sure we will manage in the end.