FINDING “HOME SWEET HOME” AFTER A FIRE

Most families never expect a house fire to happen to them. But imagine finding out about a fire at your home when you are away. That’s exactly what happened to Maureen St. Clair of Coal Valley, who received a call last August from her neighbor warning her of smoke and crackling noises coming from the back of her family’s home. Because Maureen was undergoing a medical procedure, she was unable to rush home. But her husband Tim was asleep in the family room – so the first priority was making sure he was safe.

“They were able to break into the house to get my husband,” she explained. “And then I just had to wait. I saw the fire for the first time on the four-o-clock news.” When Maureen did arrive home, the fire had devastated her home of 42 years. At least six local fire departments had been involved in extinguishing the flames, which began with a security light in the back of the home. It spread through the vinyl siding and insulation to reach almost every room of the family’s home. In the aftermath, the smoke and water damage was overwhelming. “There were gaping holes in the vinyl siding and insulation,” Maureen remembered. “Almost every room was affected.”

Maureen and Tim initially moved into a hotel and then a townhome while Werner began the process of restoring the home. “They were working on it all the time,” said Maureen, who visited almost every day. She also had a great deal of input during the process – as many of the finishes and fixtures were replaced. But one of the most important items to Maureen survived – her mother’s Irish china, a treasured set adorned in shamrocks and displayed in the family’s china hutch. The china was one of the only things she could think of when she was waiting to go home after the fire. “I realized it was just stuff,” said Maureen. “But the china survived. It was my miracle.” Werner was able to remove and restore her family china with its state-of-the-art cleaning system. Maureen and Tim moved back into their home in January, and they are getting settled back in. “It definitely seems like home,” Maureen said. “I would highly recommend Werner.”

The bottom line

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 1.3 million fires happen each year. And there’s a chance it could happen to you. Check out some of our tips about fire prevention.

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