On Monday, May 24th my life changed forever. My sister and I woke up around 5:50 a.m. to the fire alarm going off in our apartment building. We often have false alarms but we both still got up immediately. I opened the front door and the smell of smoke hit me instantly. We threw on street clothes, grabbed our wallets and got out. As we were grabbing our stuff two guys were going door to door yelling that the apartment next to us was on fire. They wouldn’t even let my sister put on her shoes when we left the apartment. We are so lucky that they cared enough to go door to door to make sure everyone got out safe. As my sister walked one way to go down the stairs, I out of habit, stopped to lock the door. During this time the door to the apartment next to us opened and smoke poured out. Thankfully there was another set of stairs that I could use to go down.
After we got downstairs we watched in horror as the fire spread from the apartment roof next to us to our roof and to more apartments. In a matter of moments the entire roof of our building was on fire. The fire raged and eventually was classified a 3 alarm fire and over 100 firefighters were on site trying to put out the blaze. (To see a photo of the roof on fire click here). Everyone from the complex was evacuated and we were all standing outside just waiting.
It took a few hours for the fire to be completely extinguished and then a few more hours before we could at least get our car out of the garage. When we left our apartment we had the clothes on our backs and our wallets, luckily by habit I grabbed both my glasses and the car keys. After we got our car out we went shopping as I hadn’t even put a bra on before evacuating.
Later that afternoon the fire marshal took us up to see our apartment for the first time. When we got up to the fourth floor the fire marshal paused and told us that it was going to be tough to look at. I don’t know if anything could have prepared me for what we were about to see. Since the fire spread so quickly across the roof the entire roof collapsed into the apartments on the top floor including ours. It was really disheartening to see pretty much everything destroyed, but luckily everyone made it out and there was only one minor injury even though twenty apartments were destroyed.
The photo on the right is a portion of our kitchen. You can see where the fire burned and where the roof collapsed. It is strange that the wine glasses are still in their place on the shelf in the cabinet. On the wall we had a pot rack that my Dad made and luckily it was still in perfect condition and we have taken it out of the destruction.
This last week I have felt like I was in an alternate universe, in one moment you feel like everything is going so fast and then slows to almost a standstill. We have been working hard to get the insurance process going, getting a new apartment and getting the things we urgently needed. One thing that we didn’t have that has been difficult is a master inventory list of everything that was in the apartment, if you don’t have one now is the time to make the list. Insurance requires you to submit a list of everything you had with the amount you paid for it and the year you bought it. Trust me it’s not the easiest list to make when you are trying to do it from your memory. Most of our belongings are destroyed between the fire, the roof collapsing and the amount of water that was used to put the fire out plus the multiple rain storms we have had since the fire.
Until you experience a disaster like this you have no idea what to do next and to be honest no one, not even the apartment complex, really had any idea of what was going to happen next.
I still haven’t fully processed what happened. We are working with the restoration company to see if we will be able to salvage anything else from the apartment, we were able to get out some family jewelry the other day, but it doesn’t look like much else will be any good – since we have had all the rain and storms during the last week.
Of course all of my cookbooks were completely destroyed, that was a sad sight to see. If you look at the picture to the left you can see my cookbooks and my books. They all have so much debris on them and were completely soaked with water. I am not sure how many I will replace immediately but there are definitely ones that I know I want to get. Unfortunately, my antique cookbooks are hidden behind the debris and I know they will be in worse condition than the ones you can see. At one point there was 8 to 10 inches of standing water in our apartment.
Still have my fingers crossed that my Great Nana’s and Nana’s recipes will still be in one piece in their plastic bag among the debris.
I know that over the next few weeks and months my life is going to feel very different as I adjust to this new reality. My sister and I are lucky that we have each other to lean on during this time. I am so grateful that we both made it out alive. It was a terrible day but it could have been so much worse.
My blog will look a little different over the coming weeks with this cooking curveball I was thrown. I am hoping to get back to normal blog posts in the next month.
As a phoenix must burn before it rises from it ashes and I choose to think that the life I will have going forward will be the life I have been dreaming of.