I woke up to a beep. I could smell smoke. I could hear voices outside, and something was rumbling. Another beep. It must be a work truck outside, I thought to myself. What time is it?, I wondered. It’s dark, but if I can hear people talking then it can’t be that early. Another beep. “I’ll go see what’s going on,” I tell Mari.
While descending the stairs I heard our neighbor talking, and she sounded worried. Another beep. Worse yet, on the other side of the wall from where I was standing I could hear what sounded like her furnace unit jumping around. With every leap a metal piece fell off.
Her furnace was on, and it was blowing up.
I continued down the stairs and looked through our door’s window. I could see the utter shock on our neighbor’s face as she told the person on the phone, “Yes, please get here quickly. My furnace is on fire.” She was talking to local volunteer fire department.
Hurrying up the stairs, I turned the bedroom light on and told Mari, “We have to go! The neighbor’s furnace is on fire.” Smoke was flooding into our room through the vents. We got dressed, ran down our stairs, grabbed our backpacks by the door, and our winter coats. By this time, there was so much smoke coming in from our kitchen that it looked like a youth worship service gone wrong. We ran out safely, though quite shaken up. I was in my blue wool slippers which Mari had made me. I even wore them to church later that morning (it’s all I had at the time).
After running outside, I ran to the back of the apartment only to see large flames coming out from my neighbor’s flat. This whole place is gone, I thought. I went with Mari to the front yard. So far only our neighbor’s duplex was on fire.
Within minutes of getting to the front yard the firefighters were there (at least 5 fire trucks and a few police cars). I soon called our landlord and told him what had happened. It was 3.40am when I called him. The fire began between 3.00 and 3.15am.
On one end of the quadplex, we lived in Apt #4. Our neighbor whose place caught fire was in #3. Two brothers lived in #2, and one guy in #1. One of the brothers had arrived home around 2.30am from his job. After eating, he heard the beeping of our neighbor’s fire alarm. Having heard for a little too long, he knocked on her front door to see if she was awake. It took several minutes and him banging on her door before she finally responded and opened it. A flood of smoke came out through the opening. She had been looking for her dog. Her electricity cut out as they were standing in the doorway. The guy saw a flash of fire in the back of her apartment where her furnace was. He quickly told her to call the fire department. That’s when I woke up.
Everybody made it out safely, including the girl’s dog. Her place has been reduced to ashes. Virtually nothing was left but a black hole. As for our apartment and the brothers in #2, everything was covered with a fine layer of soot and reeked of putrid smoke. Additionally there was some water damage from the firefighters.
Our apartment was (and is, and will be) unlivable, and we were officially homeless. Later that day the ceiling fell down in one of our rooms, as the fire had spread through the attic earlier that morning. But with the help of friends, we got most of our things out later that day (and night). Our small group leaders housed us for a couple of nights, and for a couple of months we will staying in some missionary housing on campus. From May-August we will be going home to family both in Louisiana and Norway. We have to find another apartment in time for the fall semester, where we will hopefully be able to live securely until our time at SBTS is over.
I’ve written this so that you may all know what is going on, and to explain the PayPal Donation button in the top right sidebar. A professor here asked if we had a donations page, so I set this up. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I presume your donations can be given anonymously, though I haven’t tried.
We’ve been able to wash some clothes. We’ve aired out parts of our library. We have a place where we can store what is left of our belongings while we are figuring everything out. We have plenty of dry cleaning to do, along with wiping down our other belongings, making an overview of what we need, and filling out our insurance claims. We don’t know how much some of this will cost or what will need to be replaced (besides our couch, armchair, and bed).
We are so thankful that no one was hurt, and that our teachers have been very accommodating with papers and midterms (as this happened right before midterms began). We have truly been able to taste and see the Lord’s goodness through this experience as church and friends have come together to show us the love of Christ through providing meals, financial support, and prayers.