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28 August 2015
The fire is out and everyone is safe. Now what?
After the firefighters left (“You have a beautiful house, but your kitchen is a disaster”), we started cleaning up the water and dirt left on the first floor wooden floors. We went to Walgreens and picked up another mop and bucket to supplement the one we had at home. The kitchen has a tile floor and the water from the fire hose flowed through the floor directly into the basement. So, we had two inches of water in that area of the basement. Fortunately, that is where the laundry is located and there is a drain there and eventually the water went down the drain after soaking the bottom two inches of everything.
We mopped up the water and soot from the floors that lead from the kitchen to the front and back doors. We kept the front and back doors open to let out the smoke residue. And slept another half hour.
We called our insurance agent at about 8:30 am and heard from an adjuster within an hour. We lived in the house for two more days. Everyone said to not stay there and breathe the smoke residue. We finally agreed. We should have moved out right away. We stayed at a friend’s place for a couple of days while the insurance company set up a hotel downtown.
The insurance company sent us some names of fire mitigation contractors they have worked with in the past. We looked at their records, including with the Minnesota Dept. of Labor and Industry’s Residential Contractor licensing system and a neighbor who used one of the contractors. We selected a company that did an excellent job on another old house fire. They were able to accurately reconstruct that old house look we are looking for.
Meanwhile, we had to get all our clothing, bedding, and curtains cleaned. They all smelled of smoke. Ditto with all our electronics: TV, DVD, clock radios, computers, spare hard drives, etc. All three floors of the house filled with smoke due to the fire in one room. (More about these subjects later.)