We purchased a fixer upper in October of 2018 and started renovating in January of 2019. My family owns a construction company, FC Batton and Son, so we worked closely with my dad on everything we wanted to do like taking down walls, add a primary suite, making an entryway, completely redoing the kitchen, expand the living space to add a dining area etc. We chose this house because it is a rancher in a really great neighborhood that needed some love! We know we could fix it up to live up to its full potential and I had a vision from the beginning that we brought to life…but there ended up being a huge hiccup that we had to deal with before getting the final product I was dreaming up!
Some before reno & fire photos:
We spent the whole year living in the house while it was being renovated, it was a pretty intense project but an awesome experience to be apart of, I got to make every little decision and I loved every minute of it! My dads employees were amazing and they are so great at what they do! On November 5th I put our 8-week old puppy in his crate while our cat roamed freely and went to Target which is 1.5 miles from our house. The siding guys were finishing up the outside and we had a day or two of painting on the inside left — then we were done with the house. As I filled my cart with groceries and other items I probably didn’t need I get a call from my dad saying that the siding guys called him screaming that “there was a fire”. I was just there and everything was fine, I didn’t turn on the oven or use my curling iron that day so how is that even possible? I then thought about my helpless animals in our home, ditched my cart and sprinted to my car to get home. As I follow a screaming firetruck I prayed that it was not going to my house because it was all just a big misunderstanding. As I pull up I see cop cars and fire trucks everywhere with the perimeter blocked off. I barely parked my car, jumped out and ran to my front door trying to get inside. A cop held me back as I scream that my animals are in the house and I needed to get them. I was directed to the subcontractor’s truck because I was told both of my animals were in there. As I walk up to the truck the windows were down which immediately made me uneasy because if you have ever had a cat you know they would get out as fast as possible, I even wondered how the heck they got a hold of her! As I look into the window I see my sweet baby Clark sitting there and I grab him feeling relieved, but I did not see Mable. I told the cop that if she was inside she would be under the bed of the room, that from the outside I could tell, was on fire. I told him he had to tell the firefighters before it was too late. Another cop ushered me to my car to get my license (probably to distract me) and I was told that the cat got out. At that moment a friend who is a cop pulled up and I have never been so thankful to see a familiar face, my dad and husband had not made it to our house yet so I was all alone trying to deal with everything going on. My cop friend watched Clark so I could go run the perimeter to find Mable and as I was crossing the street to go behind my house I see a paramedic holding her by her neck walking out the front door. She was unconscious and covered in black soot and all wet…as I was running to her I braced myself for the fact that she might not be alive. I saw them doing CPR and as I get to get to her I saw an oxygen mask on her face and her breath on the mask. I have never been so relieved, they handed her to me and I held my sweet baby who couldn’t move because she was in such shock and so scared.
These photos were given to me by one of the firefighters! I went and brought them coffee, donuts and Chicago Fire sweatshirts to say thank you and one of the guys had them on his phone! CLICK HERE for the Instagram post with all the details, it was pretty amazing.
Again, I was alone still when this happened so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do because Mable needed medical attention ASAP. As I am standing there a feel a tap on the shoulder and the kindest neighbor offered to take her to our vet, she told me that I cannot leave the house right now and she would be happy to help. I have never been so thankful for someone to come to my rescue. I gave her my vet information, and we exchanged numbers, her husband went and got their car and I handed her Mable knowing my girl was in good hands so I could take care of everything else that was going on. My dad finally showed up and my husband a little while after that — each time I fell into their arms because they were the only ones who really understand the pain I was in (to understand what I mean read our fertility journey blog post). From the outside, it looked like I was breaking down because our house was gone but in reality, it was so much more than that. I kept asking them why bad things keep happening to us and I just needed it to stop, I couldn’t take anymore and couldn’t (and still can’t) understand why. A little while later I got a call from my sweet neighbor who said that the vet was bathing Mabs over and over until the water ran clear, they cleaned in her mouth, nose, ears and eyes. I went and picked her up and they checked out Clark to make sure he was okay, they bathed him and gave him a clean bill of health. They sent me off with both of my animals with minimal injuries and we drove to my parent’s house, on the way I was in total shock as to what had just occurred but I have never been so grateful for the outcome. We were going to have to watch Mable for the next 24 hours because internal smoke damage is like sore muscles. If inflammation was going to happen we had to be on the lookout to rush her to the emergency vet. We also had to put medicine in her eyes to help her heal, that was a struggle but it helped a lot. I am very aware of how much worse it all could have been and the house was just that — a structure that we lived in. The first night at my parent’s house Steve, Clark, Mable, and I all slept in the same bedroom and I didn’t sleep at all because I needed to make sure Mable was going to be okay. Every little noise she made scared the crap out of me — she had a little cough from the smoke inhalation so I was ready to run to the Pet ER about 10x. She ended up being okay and got back to being her cute little self in a very short amount of time. As time passed the smell of smoke on her fur became less and less and the cough went away, she is so strong and we are so freaking lucky. The source of the fire was from the siding being installed when a piece was screwed in on the side of our house it hit the main electrical cord and started a fire in the wall.
Fire Aftermath Photos:
Steve, myself, Mable, and Clark all lived with my parents for about a month while we dealt with insurance and tried to figure out what we were going to do. It was nice to be with my parents and have that extra support in such a hard time, I was still healing from the miscarriages but the fire brought me to a whole new place which was just too much to handle. I couldn’t go back to our house, the smell was the worst thing ever and seeing our home that was worked so hard on for months covered in soot, smoke and water was so difficult. This was right before the holidays so we decided to take a step back from it all, we had travel plans and just focused on that. Insurance was trying to put us in a 3rd-floor condo, that did not go well with me considering we got Clark thinking we would have a house and a yard for him, we got back to my parents after looking at the condo and I broke down…again. Insurance told us if we could find a place we were happy with they were okay with that, so I put the word out we were looking and someone from my sister’s church knew someone who was fixing up a house to become an Air B&B. I contacted him and he had a huge heart to consider letting us and our animals live in the house until ours was finished. There were a few crazy coincidences like the rental house being on Clark Ave that gave me some peace that we were right where we should be even though its not where I wanted to be. We moved in December 1st and insurance paid our rent for 6 months which was great, we were able to slowly move into our house and have the rental in the meantime. Mable and Clark have bonded more than I could have ever imagined through this and our little family of 4 is my everything.
We moved back into our house at the end of April 2020 when COVID was in its height. We luckily were able to get cable and internet installed just enough to move in and work from home. Ever since we have been decorating, furnishing and making this house our home. Check out Instagram and other blog posts to see before and afters as well as projects we have worked on.