June 29th, 2007, my house caught fire. I was out of town shooting a wedding. I had turned off my phone on Friday afternoon when I arrived to the wedding location in Chico. I threw a hammock in a tree, and began my leisurely weekend of shooting. On sunday morning I decided to check my phone to see if anyone had called. I had 13 messages. I am really not that popular. My stomach dropped. Not one of the messages relayed the direct information that my house had burned, but they all alluded to it. I was so thankful that I hadn’t turned on my phone earlier. Shock, panic, sadness, and confusion set in pretty quickly. The bride gave me sage advice. She told me to take a breath, take a moment, and try to face the chaos with a sense of calm. That advice has stuck with me. Through dealing with the insurance company, and contractors, and City officials, and all the rest, a good sense of humor and calm has done me well. My house was fairly severely burned. There was extensive fire, smoke, water, and damage from the fire crews cutting holes in my roof. My neighbor’s house also caught on fire. Firemen who came through in the days after the fire told me that they could see flames from several miles away. I actually feel pretty lucky that I was out of town with my dog and most of my camera gear.
At the beginning of this week, the insulation guys came in a started installing “fancy” insulation. Not a particularly sexy subject, but the type of insulation I have had installed is actually pretty cool. Supposedly a “green” product made from polyurethane and corn or soybean and propelled by water. This fast expanding foam is shot into the wall cavities and expands something like 120 times in size and hardens within seconds. The foam seals and fills any gaps and holes that you might have in your house. Since my house was built in 1889, it needs quite a few gaps to be filled.
From framing, electrical, plumbing, floors, and finishes, it takes a lot to put a house back together. Doesn’t take much to tear it down. A good reminder of how fragile the balance of life can be.
Here a few pictures from over the last couple of years. I hope you enjoy them.
Spray foam insulation by SDI Insulation.