Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cleaning Up

After the fire happened, I planned to take care of the house cleaning myself. I spent every day after work cleaning, I took one afternoon off of work to clean, I spent all day all weekend cleaning and was feeling discouraged by the amount of work that needed to be done. I even planned to clean my couches by myself and then eat the costs to get the carpets cleaned. I hadn't thought about all the other details that were brought up to me later.

When I began, I started with all surfaces and I noticed that even though we got the smoke smell out of the house, when I started cleaning, the smell came back. I had stirred it up cleaning. I cleaned the ceiling fans, the plants, the baseboards, the pictures on the walls, all nick knacks in the house, and what really discouraged me was when I started the upholstery. I cleaned my couches 6 moths prior and I took a picture of what I got out of a single couch. It was then that I spoke with the National Guard.

When I spoke with them, they told me to stop killing myself and get some help - they'd cover the bill. So I called a company called ServePro to come out and give me an estimate. They said that because of the demand from the fire, they were now charging $125 for a "free estimate" and they were rude. I called someone else - Utah Disaster Kleenup. The amount of work I needed done in the house was over $3600 and I the inexperienced consumer went with the bid, not knowing any other options.

Later when I talked to the guard for reimbursement, I found out that Utah Disaster Kleenup was gouging the prices and taking advantage of the situation. I was furious. A woman I spoke with at the guard hired an independent cleaning woman to clean all of her walls, baseboards, and blinds for $500. I did all the work myself. She then broke up the same work I needed done on my house - carpets, upholstery, and airways and vents, with other companies and had more work done for less. I also needed an "air scrubber" which was a gigantic machine to take the smell of smoke out of the house. It worked, but took up the entire living room.

I really learned a lesson with this. I hope I never have to go through anything like this again, but if I do, at least I learned from this experience.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Machine Gun Fire

As many know, we were affected by the fire in Herriman. Camp Williams decided to do machine gun practice even though it was a red flag day and the winds were very strong. Even after they accidentally started the fire, they thought they could contain the fire themselves and waited 3 hours before calling the fire department. While I'm pretty disappointed with Camp Williams, I'm so grateful for the firefighters who saved hundreds of homes.

Around 6:00 Sunday evening, we decided to go to my parents house because we could smell smoke and thought someone was doing a prescribed burn in the area. As we pulled out of the driveway, we noticed it was literally raining ash. We wanted to get some clear air and figured it would be cleaner air when we returned. Around 7:45 we were packing up to go home when my sister called me at my parents house, telling me that there was a fire near my house and I needed to get home immediately - assuming I could even get in at this point. She also told me that the Cove had already been evacuated (I live in the subdivision just East of them).

As we drove into Herriman it was like something you see in a movie. The entire mountain side was on fire and there were emergency vehicles everywhere. Cars were stopped all over the roads to look at the fire, causing roads to back up. We headed up toward our neighborhood and the main entrance to the neighborhood was already blocked by the police so we turned around and tried a back way, successfully. We got into the house and immediately started packing important documents, picture CDs and computers. We also packed enough stuff for over night. For nearly 2 hours we were in the house, bathing the kids and deciding what we should do. In that 2 hour time period, Kris threw up 4 times and I had a sore throat from the thick smoke in the area. We decided it wasn't worth waiting for an evacuation for health reasons and we left.

Leaving the area was surreal. Every street intersection was blocked off by police allowing people out, but no one in. I've never seen so many emergency vehicles in my life. The roads were blocked all the way to Bangerter Highway off two exits. As we drove out, we could see the entire mountain on fire. I took the dogs to my parents, and Kris took the kids to his brother's. When we arrived at Rusty and Amy's we didn't realize at the time, but we smelled terribly of smoke and when we went back to the cars for our belongings, the cars had filled with smoke too and we didn't realize it until we were in clean air.

We spoke with our neighbors who never left and one of their children was throwing up through the night and still coughing the next day. I'm glad we left when Kris has a breathing problem, Kyson has asthma, and Kodi had RSV last winter. It wasn't worth it for us. The next day the neighborhood was still blocked off by the police. 7 schools were also closed in the area so Kyson's preschool was closed.

I needed more clothes and medication because I only brought a 24-hour supply so I was going to see if I could get a police escort to the house. Fortunately they had taken down the barricades to our neighborhood by Monday afternoon so I was able to get in without any hassle, but the smoke was too thick to stay. I opened the windows and planned to air it out so we could return the next day.

Tuesday morning Kris returned to the house. The smoke smell was faint at this point and there appeared to be no damage or problems from the smoke. Before we evacuated on Sunday we turned on all the ceiling fans, closed all the closet doors, and closed up the furnace and laundry room and put towels under the doors to try and keep the smoke out. I had also replaced my furnace filters only 2 weeks before the fire. I believe all of these things really helped keep the smoke out.

In all this fire burned 3500 acres, 3 houses were destroyed and one other was damaged severely. When I look at the burn lines, it is so scary to think about how bad it could have been. The flames were traveling 25 mph and it truly is a miracle that only 3 houses were lost.

The view from the neighborhood

Hundreds of houses could have been burned

Too close for comfort

It's a miracle - the fire burned all around the house

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vote for Kodi