Everything I’ve Learned Since A House Fire Destroyed My Entire Home In 5 Minutes

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How My House Fire Started

“My name is Michelle Haney and I am a house fire survivor. My husband and I have been married for 14 years and have 4 wonderful children, 12, 10, 7, and 2.

We have lived in our home for 8 years. For 7 years we rented, but we finally decided to purchase it just last year in June of 2021. We’ve spent this entire last year updating, renovating, and decorating it making it the way we’ve always wanted it.

Around 8 p.m. Saturday, July 2, we celebrated the 4th by lighting off store-bought fireworks in our driveway, just as we have every year since having children.

We wrapped up our festivities around 8:45 p.m. I went inside and got the kiddos ready for bed while my husband cleaned up the debris outside. At 9:30 p.m. the fireworks had been stomped out and were completely cool to the touch. They were deposed in the trash receptacle.

Around 9:40-9:45 p.m., my husband smelled a ‘burning candle’ and followed the scent to the garage to find it filled with pitch black smoke. He screamed for me to call 9-1-1 and to get the kids out of the house. The whole house was in flames within 5 minutes as our vehicles were in the garage providing fuel for the fire. My youngest daughter and I were the last ones out. Within minutes of shutting the front door, it blew up off of the house. Our family of 6 lost our house, all of our possessions, our 2 vehicles, and our 4 precious cats.

house up in flames with tons of smoke
Courtesy of Michelle Haney
orange cat sitting in white sink
Courtesy of Michelle Haney

What I’ve Learned Since Losing My Home In A Fire

Nothing can prepare you for such a loss. The grief, heartache, and devastation are beyond what even you can comprehend. It’s so much, all at once. But here are a few things I’ve come to understand better since the fire:

  1. Ask for help again and again and again. The people who love you WANT to carry you and help you through this.
  2. People are far more generous and understanding than you expect.
  3. Don’t rush your grief because time isn’t linear in situations like this.
  4. Our fireproof safe saved us from a lot of hassle and proved my identity. They are worth the expense.
  5. If you know anyone who’s experienced this type of trauma, don’t try to tell them how great it will be to rebuild or buy new things. Sit with them, offer to bring them a meal, or bring them a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Or better yet, offer to take their kids for a night or two so the parents can think, cry, or escape on a date night.
Photo collage from remains of house fire
Courtesy of Michelle Haney

How We’re Doing Post-Fire

We received lots of help in the beginning. We are living in a hotel until October, which is when we move into a rental. We are working with a builder to get the rebuilding process underway. In this economy, the amount of money it will take is astronomical so we are humbly asking for help on GoFundMe to help us cover the expense. We have 6 more weeks until insurance kicks in and we can repurchase our ‘in-home’ possessions. If you’re the giving type, please consider helping us reach our GoFundMe goal. The link is below.”

family photo selfie with family of six
Courtesy of Michelle Haney

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Michelle Haney. You can follow her journey on her Instagram, and donate to her GoFundMe. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube  for our best videos.

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‘Stay calm, keep moving. You’re getting out of here.’ The firefighter lifted me up. The lights faded, water filling at my feet. Panic set in.’: 9/11 survivor thanks firefighter for saving her life, ‘I will live each day to its fullest, never in vain of his heroism’

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