What it’s like to have your house almost burn down

Who hasn’t joked about the roof being on fire? The ever popular song by Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three has probably ingrained itself in many heads (particularly if you were born post-1980). I had the unfortunate luck of having to literally say that aloud, in a much more exasperated sense this past Saturday.

Working at a local coffee shop, I was moments from taking a break for lunch when my phone went abuzz with a telephone call from my roommate. Eric? I thought to myself, why on earth would he be calling when it’s his day off, unless there is some urgent matter, of which I couldn’t fathom any. I listened as he paid no hesitation to the open line and began to exasperate the words “Our house is on fire!”

Figuring he was half kidding, I made him repeat it until it sank in for me as well. Hurriedly telling my boss that I had to go with not much of an explanation other than “my house is on fire,” I took off running the few blocks from work to my home. Half in a daze and not sure what to expect and arriving to see the entire city block closed with three or more fire trucks, an ambulance and three police cars all lining the areas from Barton St. to York Blvd, I stood there in disbelief.

After about four hours of speculation and fact providing to fire and police, watching the attic spew out smoke and small flames, we were allowed back into the house. Unbelievably, other then smoke damage to the entire attic, the stink of burnt wood wreaking throughout the house, and a trail of soot and dirt throughout the abode, my belongings were all intact and okay. The fire had spread slightly into the attic, but thanks to the sturdy construction of these built-to-last century homes, the majority was only damaged by smoke. Water that extinguished the fire on the other hand, was everywhere. Seeping into the walls and floors and cracks that I couldn’t see. I knew this was the beginning of a long process.

Since, the entirety of my home has been removed so work can begin assessing exactly how much water damage was done, and while personal belongings, irreplaceable pictures and family hand-me-downs are still intact, the shock of seeing your living space turned upside down is an empty feeling.

So what’s it like to have a fire at your house? Stressful. Sitting there on a city bus provided for warmth, watching and not knowing whether you’re going to lose everything, or nothing at all. Wondering what caused it, next steps, and what you’re going to do with yourself for the time being is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s a real tumultuous situation that could have been a lot worse. Since then, the insurance has cleared, and the time I will be displaced is roughly six months.

It’s a stark and uncomfortable situation, one that, had it been 12 hours prior, could have been a lot worse. People’s lives would have been at stake on a much larger scale, and although I am not religious, I have definitely counted my blessings. Just know, if you’re a renter, or a home owner, that insurance is so important. I cannot stress the need for the safeguards that insurance puts in place. My neighbour is uninsured, and to procure the funds to fix an entire damaged home from your own pocket would just be horrible. It’s not cheap, and the amount of time involved is so draining on you as a person. Not to mention our properties being connected means that we will have to try and get money from him to fix the roof which must all be done at once. Intricacies aside, it could end up being a long legal battle on that front.

Always know your coverage, and never hide or change anything about your homestead without telling insurance, or it will bite you in the butt. Though insurance is there to help you in case of an emergency, they are extremely critical, and will try and find anything to void or nullify your policy. Thanks to the fire not starting in our house, it will ultimately turn out positively, which isn’t always the case.IMG_1093

About the author  ⁄ Nick Hind-Knapp

Once upon a time a baby weighing more than a bag of potatoes was born. He still lives.

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