Fire on the Homestead

Last weekend, the coast guard put up hurricane warning flags - something long timers tell me they have never seen in our area. But God heard our prayers, and the hurricane turned into nothing more than a wintery rain and wind storm that caused minor damage, mostly in town. We felt we were out of the danger zone. Then something awful happened.

At 4 a.m. Monday morning, when my dear husband stepped outside to head to work, he was horrified to discover that one of our outbuildings - a big, lovely pole barn - was glowing red with fire.

After he called 9/11, he immediately called me on his cell phone. I thought I'd heard some weird bumping noises, but figured it was just one of my children. Then I thought I heard a man's voice yelling; I almost got up, but the noise went away and I thought it must have been one of my children listening to a CD. (They like to listen to radio dramas in bed.) But no. The bumps were the sound of the metal pole barn warping and falling apart, and the yells were my husband's frustrated response to initially dialing 9/11 incorrectly because his hands were shaking so hard.

We are waiting for the insurance company's permission to knock this down.
As soon as he told me the building was on fire, I slipped on some jeans and a jacket and ran down the driveway to meet him. The pole barn was already done for - the roof had caved in, the metal doors were warped and falling off, and the whole thing looked melted. We were in shock, especially since we'd just been working in there.

Sunday afternoon, hubby and I were working on sorting the contents of this pole barn - mostly furniture and antique and vintage household items. And I was so happy because I found two metal shelves that seemed made for holding canning jars. I loaded those shelves with everything I canned this summer, and some of what I'd moved from the old house. Jars upon jars of applesauce, plums, jams, green beans, chicken soup made from our own chickens... I was so pleased to have a decent place to store these home canned goods - finally. In fact, I almost took a photo to share with you; then I thought, "I'll do it tomorrow."

That night when we went to bed, hubby talked about his dreams for that pole barn. He wanted me to be able to sit by the wood stove in a comfy chair with a book. He wanted me to be able to store books there, if I wanted, or to use it as a sewing and stained glass creation room. Whatever relaxing thing I wanted. My personal space - something I hadn't had since the children came along.

Interestingly, we ended the night with an email from a friend, telling my hubby that someone he'd known in our area had recently died in a house fire...

So there we were in the wee hours of Monday morning, huddled together and watching the fire until fire department came and put out the flames. We prayed and thanked God that no people or animals were hurt. That we'd had such a stormy weekend, and everything was soaked with water. That the fire didn't happen during our dry summer, when it surely would have spread rapidly to neighbors and the forest. That we weren't looking at the embers of our home. So much to be thankful for! And we feel that in some way God was protecting us with this fire. That may sound weird to some, but I know God uses all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Even dry wells. Even fires.We feel His hand firmly holding and protecting us.

In the wee hours of the morning, it was disturbing to watch the building burn. Seeing the wreckage by daylight is almost worse. I can see the metal shelves that still hold my canning jars, which are warped and melted. Oh, it's painful to see all that healthy food I was so pleased to have for my family (after hours and hours of work) gone!

The canned goods on those wonderful industrial shelves...
It's amazing how intact many of those jars still look.
See the spot where the fire wasn't nearly as hot and the building almost looks normal? That's exactly where my canning jar shelves are. The liquid in the jars considerably cooled the fire in that area.
What caused the fire? Since the building didn't have electricity, and since there was nothing else in the building that could ignite a fire, the fire chief felt it was a flue fire. We are still waiting to hear what the insurance company's fire inspector thinks, but we did notice he went into the wreckage and pulled out the entire wood stove flue. It's badly cracked.

Folks, we've had wood stoves all the years we've been married (15), and my husband has had them most of his life. This was such a freak thing.

Yes, it hurts to look at the remains of that pole barn. But, oh my friends, it could have been much, much worse.



  1. I'm so thankful it wasn't your home, but nonetheless I know that hurts!!!!

  2. Love and prayers. So sorry for your loss, but praising God your family and animals are safe.