Sometimes, a fire starts and spreads silently, without anyone inside even realizing it. This was the case for Tom and Julia Anderson of Sherrard, Ill. Tom and the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Londyn, were playing in their basement in February when a fire that started in the fireplace spread into the attic and roof. While the family was unaware of the danger above, there was someone outside who noticed. “The mailman was knocking frantically on the door,” said Julia, who wasn’t home at the time. “He was yelling, ‘Your roof is on fire!’” When Julia received a call from her husband about the fire, she wanted to believe it wasn’t her house or that it wasn’t very serious. But when she pulled up in front of her home, emergency vehicles surrounded it. Putting out the fire wasn’t simple. First, the fire department was held up at another location. Then, the firefighters had to tap into the nearby water tower because of freezing temperatures. But when the fire was extinguished, the family was left with a new reality.
“We were in shock for about 72 hours,” said Julia. “But when help arrived, I didn’t feel alone.” That help included the Werner Restoration team, who started by assessing the full damage at the property. “The ceiling had caved in,” explained Jason Nelson, a project manager with 17 years of experience. “There was also significant roof and truss damage, along with water damage in the basement.” And there was also a great deal of smoke damage throughout the home – even in areas the fire didn’t touch. That’s because for every 10 degree increase in temperature, the pressure in the house doubles. “That makes the smoke stick to everything,” said Jason. “It pushes soot into every nook and cranny.”
Rebuilding the home meant that Tom and Julia could also choose to make some updates to the home. They created a more open living space with a spacious new kitchen. The space is perfect for entertaining neighbors, friends and family. Through the restoration process, the wood burning fireplace was replaced with a new gas version. The entire house was cleaned and sealed. New paint and flooring makes the home feel like new. And outside, there’s a new roof and a rebuilt deck overlooking a stunning lake view.
The beauty of the Anderson’s home is a relief after this disaster. They are moving back into their home this week. But Julia and Tom understand it could have been much worse and have kept that in perspective.“Nobody got hurt,” Julia explains. “That’s really all that matters.”
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.