This house was a house like any other house. People drive past it every day. Schoolchildren walk and run past it everyday on their way to school. It was once a home to a family who shared happy times within the comforts of its walls and made many a cherished memories there as well.
For 48 years, it was the home to *Bea Green and her family. Her parents had purchased the home for her and husband after they had gotten married in July of 1976. There is a pit in the two-car garage to work on cars and her husband had been a race car driver, which was why the home was purchased for them. Bea’s parents had hoped it would keep him out of the bars if he had a place to work on his race cars. It didn’t.
From the outside, the house looks like your typical older home. It is in good condition. It has a nice small yard with a few older pine trees, and the two-car garage. There is nothing out of the ordinary to show that there is something amiss to draw any suspicion.
On the night of 29 January 2016, Bea was alone in her home in her living room. It was about quarter after 10 and a candle she was burning accidentally got knocked over. Fire quickly broke out and though Bea tried to put it out herself, flames quickly starting to engulf the room. The fire department had been called but by the time they arrived, the downstairs had been consumed by the fire but Bea had made it out alive. The downstairs had sustained most of the damage but it was enough to make the house unlivable.
Before even stepping over the threshold, the smell of smoke and charred hit me like a brick. Walking in, I was surround by mounds of charred remains. What didn’t or couldn’t burn, lay haphazardly, half burnt. In the living room, a recliner-like chair was burnt down to its skeleton spring frame lay sadly on a charred pile of ashes. Before, it must have provided many a great comfort to rest upon its soft plushness. On a desk in the corner of room, an oil lamp on another pile of charred ash lay against the wall. A patina of soot was on its reservoir of oil. Every breath I took was filled with the smoke in the air and the charred remains.
It was very difficult for me to imagine what the house might have looked like prior to the fire. What wallpaper was on the walls? What decor was there? What pictures hung on the wall? What color were the curtains? What color was the rooms? How did the light show through the windows? Despite all this missing, despite the fire burning all this away, the echoes of the past of the people who lived there and the memories that were made there, still echoed through buried deep in the heart of the house. And that is where is where the beauty of all this ugliness shined through.
Fire is very, very ugly, Fire is also a thief of all that is beautiful. Of what you love and what and whom you cherish. Fire can also come when you least expect, like a thief in the night. But it’s not what it is on the surface. It’s not the charred remains. It is that which shines through from the heart of the home that overcomes this ugliness.
As for Bea, she was temporarily displaced for a weeks while the Red Cross and another local housing agency helped her find a new place to call home. She hasn’t been back inside her former home since the night of the fire. She returns often to look at some things that were salvaged from the fire, in particular photo albums. These are stored in the garage for now.
The fire has been ruled accidental, but the city has condemned her home. It is now up to the city to decide the fate of it.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals involved.
Did you like this post? Please tick the like and share buttons below and subscribe so you can keep up to date with all the new places we explore. Thanks!