My wife Eli spotted the fire, as she stepped outside to get some poke'balls.
It was two days ago as I write this. The monday after Martin Luther King day. The roofers that the landlord hired had quit for the day and the house was finally absent the laborious thumps and sudden slams that we had been suffering under for the past four days.
Eli smelled an odd chemical scent coming from the back yard. She followed it around and saw the deck at the back of the house aglow in the fading winter light.
She ran back into the house at full alarm. I was in my office trying to squeeze in a few rounds of "Heroes of the Storm" with friends. I bolted up to the deck. Earlier that day, I had watched one of the roofers lay down tar paper then "activate* it with a long barreled flame thrower. A practice the fire inspector would later inform me was called "torchdown roofing"
Smoke was billowing into the room off the deck as I got up to the second floor, and I could see a small jet of flame at the door frame. I made several runs from bathroom to deck with buckets of water as Eli called 911. Eventually the tar smoke became too noxious for me to enter the room i fell back to the ground floor just as the first of six fire-crews arrived. The next few hours are a blur.
As it turns out - We spotted the fire early enough that when the trucks arrived it was still just in the roof-space. Most of the things we lost personally were things in the room under that roof-space. Damaged by the water the firefighters used put out the fire. Sadly that room was where we kept our board games and my 30 years worth of comics.
I'm not sure how much damage the house sustained (I overheard a quote for around $30,000) but my guess is that the landlord is never going actually pay that much to fix it. He has an established pattern of going for the cheapest possible repair for any problem. Broken washers and dryers replaced with other dented, beaten down machines. A water heater 20 years old the day we moved in not getting replaced for another 8 years, until the plastic lining of the water tank started sloughing off and actually clogging the kitchen faucet. We once went 175 days without an oven, because he couldn't "find a guy" with the right parts.
And now, case in point - in about three hours, The unlicensed and unbonded handymen that caused the fire two days ago will be showing up as the repair crew. My guess, at a severe discount.
Moving has not been an option for some time... but now as I lay here at 5 in the morning, unable to sleep. it's become clear that the thing we really lost in the fire was the sense that we are safe in our own home.
In the past 48 hours we've gotten a lot of calls from people asking how they can help or if there is anything we need. We are really thankful for their support and the outpouring of love from friends, family, and fans. Including the over $1,000 they've donated to my PayPal account.
As ever, people are always welcome to sign up with support on my patreon account -
or buy some possibly (limited time only) charcoal scented art prints via my Art Print shop.