God Cared For Us During Our House Fire
by Robin Ulbredtch
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“Come and see what God has done, how awesome His works in man’s behalf!” (Psalm 66:5 NKJV)
“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what God has done for me.” (Psalm 66:16 NKJV)
On Friday, May 10, 2013, at about 10 p.m. my husband Steve and I were relaxing in our living room. As I sat at a small table working on crafts, I began to smell traces of smoke as if something was burning but could not see the source. Suddenly I heard little electrical noises, “zzzt, zzzt.” I carefully examined that lamp and its connection in the power-strip on the floor next to me. Still I couldn’t find the source of the sound.
Suddenly Steve and I heard an extremely loud jolt of electricity, and Steve isolated in to the area of overhead light fixture in the hallway. Noticing the light was burned out he went to pull down the light cover. When he reached for the cover, it was too hot to handle. So he went and retrieved an oven mitt and we looked up inside the fixture. Steve saw a small fire burning in the roof area above, and I noticed a red-glowing ring of light around the fixture. Not knowing what to do, we decided to call 911.
The 911 operator asked about the nature of our emergency then instructed us to get out everyone out of the house. Steve locked our dog, Skippy, out in the back yard and we quickly exited out the front door. As I approached the downward step at the end of our entryway, I heard a voice ask, “Do you need help?” I looked up and saw two of our city’s Bicycle Policemen on the lawn near our driveway. Apparently the policemen were making their rounds and noticed smoke coming from the vent in our attic.
The policemen asked if everyone was out of the house and about the location and nature of the fire. We explained the situation to them, and they directed us to go across the street away from danger. Within three minutes or less we had two fire trucks, two patrol cars (one blocking each end of our street) and an EMT vehicle close by. I was amazed at how quickly they all arrived!
As I sat on the curb watching the smoke roll out of the attic vent, Steve stood behind me on the grass speaking with a neighbor who had been friends of ours for several years. To my surprise this neighbor called some friends of ours from church that lived close by. Soon our friend appeared and asked if we needed help or a place to stay. We agreed to spend the night with them.
As the firemen climbed a ladder and looked into our attic, they saw fire burning in the insulation. They may have prayed some chemicals to put the fire out, but little if any water was used. Apparently an excessive amount of blown-in insulation suffocated the fire and kept it from spreading.
Soon the firemen went in the front door of our home. They quickly removed our collection of photographs from the hallway walls and laid a tarp on the floor. Then they cut a 3 ft. by 6 ft. hole in the hallway ceiling and pulled the burning insulation down onto the tarp. Then they carried the conglomeration in the tarp outside, dumped it in a small heap on our lawn and hosed it down. Soon the fire was out and the firemen wound up their hoses. Thank God our home was still standing, with only minimal damage!
Because of the smoke and a mess in our livingroom (including insulation strewn throughout the area), the firemen recommended we find another place to stay for the night. Thankfully, we already had arrangements with our church friends. The firemen stayed until we packed a change of clothes. While we gathered our things, the firemen got another call and had to leave briefly. He said He wanted to come back and turn the power off in our home until we could get an electrician to check everything out. So we left the front door unlocked so he could come back and turn the power off. Then Steve, Skippy and I walked to our neighbor’s home.
Early Saturday morning, after having coffee with our friends, we walked home and I called our insurance company. Waiting to hear from the insurance people, we surveyed the mess and picked up some of the pictures that were piled on the couch. Later that afternoon a check arrived in the mail from my parents just in time to cover our hotel and food costs for another day. That same afternoon our insurance company called and we arranged to meet them after church the next morning.
North Idaho Fire and Flood arranged for us to spend two more nights in the hotel while they had an electrician check our home and they cleaned up the mess. They also sucked out the old insulation and stained the burnt wood so the smoke smell wouldn’t be able to escape and cause my asthma to flare up. Finally we were able to come home and stay while the insurance workers finished the repairs.
When most of the repairs were completed, the insurance adjuster told me that our burnt-orange carpet (from the 1970’s) was burned and they were going to replace it. Then he explained the process of figuring out a budget for new flooring and said he would let me know how much we could spend.
I had wanted replace that carpet for years! I wanted to replace it with some wood-look flooring so I could clean it thoroughly without having to spend money to rent a carpet cleaning machine. Though Steve agreed new flooring would be nice, we didn’t have the money and he didn’t want to have to move all of our furniture.
God worked it out so we got the new flooring I wanted, and other than packing a few boxes of glassware and videos, Steve and I didn’t have to do the work. The men from North Idaho Flood and Fire moved our furnishings into a rental truck and tore out the old carpet. The next day they installed the new flooring and trim boards. Before 9:30 a.m. on the following day, they had all our furnishings back in our home on the beautiful, new wood-look laminate flooring!
We could have lost everything, including our lives, in that fire! But before each need arose, God was there to meet it! Though the food in our freezer and refrigerator had to be thrown away, our local Food Bank, Bonner Gospel Mission and our church provided food for us. God provided, through the insurance company, three days in a hotel, meals out and time in a hot tub. We also got a light fixed in our laundry area, new light fixtures and paint in our hallway, and the new beautiful laminate flooring in our dining room, living room and hallway. Also, when our phone minutes ran out because of the extra calling, my parents provided more minutes for both of our phones.
Thank you everyone who prayed and came to our aid during this trial! Though we went through a frightening time, we believe God had us in the palm of His hand. He turned this trying circumstance for good, and in the midst of it, He truly blessed us!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Radmacher, Earl D. Editor (1997, 2007) The NKJV Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, U. S. A., pp. 881-882.
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