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Thank God they weren’t home

Lightning struck and burned down my brother’s home yesterday. Fortunately, he was at a friend’s wedding at the time. There is a news story here and the people in the photo are my parents. What the article fails to say is that a propane tank on the front porch exploded moments after the house was struck. Pieces of the tank were found in a backyard across the street two houses down. My brother and his fiancee spend a lot of time on that porch. If they were home, it’s likely that they would have been there or in the room on the other side of the bay window that looks out onto the porch.

I was there most of yesterday evening and I have to say that despite not being able to save his house or his beloved dog Molly, the firemen were simply incredible. It’s been ruled natural causes and everything was explained to us in detail. Afterwards, I walked through the house with my brother and a firefighter friend of his. He’ll be able to save a handful of possessions. It’s heartbreaking. Molly was like his child and he put so much work into that house. There were many Martha Stewart jokes at his expense over the years.

He’s getting married in November. It would be amazing if they can get their home back before their wedding and if there is any way, I know family and friends will make it happen. Fortunately, we’ve heard excellent things about his insurance company, Allstate. We’ll know more later today.


Clarkesworld Bestsellers for the Week Ending May 7, 2006


Clarkesworld Bestsellers for the Week Ending May 14, 2006


  1. Neil, how awful! As you say it’s lucky that they weren’t home when this happened, but it’s still heartbreaking.

    My sympathies to you and your family. Keeping my fingers crossed that the insurance company makes the next steps as painless as possible.

  2. That’s … “scary” seems woefully inadequate. I’m so sorry to hear about Molly and the house, but as you say, thank God they weren’t home.

    We use State Farm. The only claim I’ve ever had was for some car damage, but they took care of it pretty quickly, and it was relatively painless for me. I hope they take good care of your brother and fiancee.

    • Whoops… meant Allstate. State Farm was the other company they mentioned as being good.

      Yeah, scary hardcover covers it. The reality of all this is hitting harder today.

  3. Ouch, that really sucks. I’m deeply sorry to hear about Molly… it’s unfortunate that most pets won’t just bolt for safety when a structure catches fire. Cats tend to hide in what they feel are “safe” places, and many dogs adamantly refuse to leave, attempting to “defend” their homes until it’s too late. I’ve been fortunate enough not to see a human or animal fatality in any of my own fire calls so far… that melted vinyl siding, on the other hand, is mighty familiar.

    Best wishes to your family for a swift recovery!

    • Molly couldn’t get out. The door was bolted and no one was home. Some neighbors tried to bust down the door but the fire spread so quickly they had to retreat from the heat. When the firemen arrived they broke into the house on the second floor since the first was aflame and they didn’t know if my brother was trapped. He had left his car in the driveway, so they thought it possible.

      Basically when the propane tank exploded it blew out the bay window and, according to some people there, covered the place in propane. His first floor was open front to back (no walls), so it burned right through very quickly.

  4. Yikes…I’m sorry dude.

  5. How lucky they weren’t home! And, State Farm is good, imho. It’s best to rebuild from a standing wall, but rebuild they will. And, provide a place to stay during the rebuilding. They’re in my thoughts.

    • Whoops. My brain is still reeling from this. It was Allstate that they have. The firemen were telling us that Allstate and State Farm would good to work with and the wrong one stuck in my head.

      They’ll be rebuilding from scratch, which in some ways is good. They can rebuild with an eye towards their future family. This was the first time I’ve heard them mention kids.

  6. I’m also sorry, Neil and condolences to your family. I hope your brother and future sister-in-law can rebuild in time for their wedding.

    • Thanks. My brother has a lot of friends, several in construction. Things like this show you who your friends are and the troops appear to be rallying for them.

  7. Sorry to hear about that bud. I hope it all falls into place over the summer so that this doesn’t disrupt the wedding and all.

  8. Eeek! How terrible 🙁 Here’s hoping everything gets sorted soon, and that the wedding is enjoyed by all.

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