Fire+Water=Big Mess

Here you'll find a wide range of discussions on old-house topics.

Moderators: oldhouse, TinaB, Don M, Schag

Post Reply
Texas_Ranger
Posts: 2355
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe
Contact:

Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by Texas_Ranger »

On Dec. 21st, one of the apartments in our finished attic (housing my uncle's office) caught fire. The FD spent three hours fighting the flames, pumping 10000 l of water (about 2500 gallons) up there.

When I came home from a nice relaxing day at the spa, water was already dripping through my bedroom's plaster ceiling and in two adjacent rooms, two floors below the actual fire! Thankfully my family had been home and immediately started to get my belongings out of the room, so hardly any portable items were damaged. The room itself looks worse though. The ceiling has water stains along all cracks and around screw holes and the oak floor took a bad beating. As there is a 4" layer of sand/clay/broken bricks underneath the floor (adding mass in order to dampen the sound of footsteps), the floors greedily sucked up the water and now the entire floor will have to be taken out, even though we emptied buckets and tubs all night long (I gave up around 2 AM, my mom did another two rounds at 4:30 and 9 AM). There was almost 1" of standing water on the floor several times.

One floor above it looked even worse. There was standing water almost all the time and the entire ceiling was like a huge shower head. The wallpaper on the ceiling quickly stripped itself off and came down in large pieces. Of course the paper scraps also fell into the tubs and buckets and clogged the bathtub drain every time we emptied the vessels.

That's what it looked like on our floor:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hl6yXjWobos

One floor above:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI8SgmomJsM
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

http://whatapigsty.blogspot.com

Daniel Meyer
Posts: 1236
Joined: Tue Dec 09, 2008 12:04 am
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by Daniel Meyer »

Yikes! What a mess. So sorry for this!
CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer
Author. Adventurer. Electrician. Cat God.
http://theoldvictorian.com
http://lifeisaroad.com
Image

jeepnstein
Posts: 2196
Joined: Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:16 am
Location: Sciotoville, Ohio
Contact:

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by jeepnstein »

Ouch. I have lots of firefighters in my family and they often comment that they destroyed a building to save it.

Crank up the de-humidifiers and wait to see the extent of your damage. How does insurance work in Europe? I know here in the States many insurance companies would flak jacket you into having one of their "restoration specialists" fixing the damage. I've seen the work such companies produce and it can either be flawless or worse than letting the structure burn to the foundation.

Good luck and keep us posted.
"Pure Stinking Genius, that's what that is. Hey, can someone get me a fire extinguisher?"

McCall
Posts: 521
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:16 am
Location: Cape Cod MA and Weirton WV

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by McCall »

I am so sorry for that to have happened to you. Hope insurance will help with the repair costs. I am still coping with the damage that one small leak left over months in the empty house has left us with. Glad no one was hurt at least.
The Opposite of Love is not Hate, But Indifference!
Image

Texas_Ranger
Posts: 2355
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe
Contact:

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by Texas_Ranger »

One retired member of a volunteer FD told me: "Well, we used to call ourselves "Flood on wheels" back when I was active!".

Currently, we have two dehumidifiers running in each damaged room and contractors are coming in for estimates. And yes, the insurance company would prefer us to use their restoration company (or maybe even force us to do so). That definitely gives me an uneasy feeling, I'd very much prefer to have hand-picked carpenters, framers, electricians,... work on the project. The insurance company sent an inspector and now pretty much all we can do is wait for his report. We definitely need storage space for my belongings and some of the furniture somewhere, can't possibly cram everything I own plus some of the stuff from the adjacent rooms into all the other rooms!

According to some of the contractors, the floors and clay fill will have to be removed in my bedroom and they have to drill holes into the ceiling in three rooms in order to have fans blowing dry air through the joist bays, so we'll have to partially emtpy two more rooms. Mine is slowly being emptied anyway, as of today, most of my stuff is boxed and ready to move.

Of course the water damage isn't all. We still have huge holes in the roof with tarps over them (the roofing emergency service comes round at least once a week to nail the tarps back down, usually more like three times), only the rear half of the roof (which is standing seem and only suffered minor damage when the FD chainsawed it open to look for any stray embers) is really fixed. Then there's lots of damaged wiring, both from the fire and from the water. Water running out of ceiling lights and outlets isn't too healthy. The stairway lighting had a dead short (some of the wires simply melted together), but that's been fixed. The door phone system quit working for the same reason, the shorted wires were too much for its power supply. That one took almost two weeks to fix, especially since around X-Mas there are plenty of holidays in Austria. The 21st was a Friday, and on Sat/Sun no contractors work. Monday was the 24th, which is only half a workday, as is the 31st. The 25th and 26th are public holidays and EVERYTHING is closed. So basically except for some emergency repairs, we couldn't get anything done until the 27th. To make matters worse, most contractors just went on holiday from the 22nd to the 6th!

The inspector was supposed to come on the 27th. Instead, we got a phone call: "Would it be alright if the inspector comes on the 9th of January, in the afternoon?"
After a bit of whining we managed to have him show up on Dec 28.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

http://whatapigsty.blogspot.com

PowerMuffin
Posts: 1497
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 11:42 am

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by PowerMuffin »

Oh my gosh - that must be awful! I hope that everything can be put right in a reasonable amount of time.
Diane

Texas_Ranger
Posts: 2355
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe
Contact:

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by Texas_Ranger »

Time is the biggest issue for me, at least right now. It seems like all we can do is wait. I can't really see them start anytime before February.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

http://whatapigsty.blogspot.com

CountryGirl
Posts: 260
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:24 pm
Location: Central Illinois

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by CountryGirl »

So sorry for the fire and water damage. I hope things are back to normal soon.

Susan
Image

Don M
Posts: 6965
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2003 11:35 am
Location: Boiling Springs, PA

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by Don M »

I'm sorry to hear of your plight; fire & water damage compounds the problems. We had a bad water leak that went of for a month before it was discovered. Our insurance company sent Service Master to dry out the kitchen & the second floor one foot below! They used circular saws to cut thru the hardwood & sub floor so their fans could blow air into the foist spaces. Our insurance company allowed us to hire a good local carpenter to repair the damged floor & kitchen cabinets so the end result wasn't so bad. Good luck with your repairs.
1840 Limestone Farmhouse
Image

Texas_Ranger
Posts: 2355
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 6:42 am
Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe
Contact:

Re: Fire+Water=Big Mess

Post by Texas_Ranger »

Right now the dehumidifiers don't seem to catch any more water, but as of this week, they installed a cavity dryer, which blows hot air into the joist bays (through holes drilled into the plaster & lath). Unfortunately the dryer connected is so bodged we had to shut everything down - the main hose has a few extra Ts and they plugged up the unecessary side of each T with old rags and packing tape. Needless to say that didn't last long.
The bad thing with electricity : it almost always works.

http://whatapigsty.blogspot.com

Post Reply