Smoke Saga - Part 3

It's time for part 3 of this crazy smoke saga! If you're not up to date, check out my first post about finding our house filled with smoke and my second post about the first week of this smoky adventure. I'll pick up where I left off last time, with a daily account of what we went through during week 2.

As you can see from the photo below, week 2 involved a lot of purging of smoky belongings.

What to Get Rid Of After a Protein Fire

As I look back on this week, I remember being in a bit of a fog as we kept our heads down and just did what we had to do. During the previous week I don't think any of our friends (beyond our parents & our sisters & brothers in law, and a few friends who follow me on Instagram) had heard what was going on. We hadn't even had a spare moment to think to tell anyone.

Thankfully this week, the word started to spread and we were so grateful for all of the help we received! We had friends come to wash and move furniture, several who took laundry home to wash (3 times, with vinegar, & hang to dry) and a couple even came and took me out for cheesecake in the middle of the day- what a relief to get away for a bit!

Saturday, March 10th

Saturday morning we met with another cleaner/restorer at our house. We wanted to know if different companies agreed on the approach to cleaning certain items and to find out if it was worth trying to clean the things that were most important to us since we knew that some items would be lost causes.

It was a long day, mostly spent washing down every surface of each item we hoped to save from the smoke and soot, then packing them into boxes. Not only was it tedious work, but we had to endure the nasty smell of smoke while we worked. Our girls went to their cousins' house for the day and thankfully some of my family were able to help us with our cleaning efforts (they kept us sane!).

At the end of the day, we rented a storage unit where we could store our belongings while our house got cleaned. I remember being so tired, physically, that I sat on the floor in front of the counter at the storage place while Ken rented the unit because I couldn't bare to be on my feet any longer!

emptying our house for cleaning after smoke damage
This was probably one of the only smiles of the day. It was another rough day!

The only thing we had ready to put in storage were the PlasmaCars- we were happy to be able to save them for the girls! My mom took some things home to wash (laundry & my good dishes). Two of my sisters-in-law took laundry home for me, too. Getting the storage unit was the last thing Ken & I did before heading home to shower (every time we finished at the house, we had to shower & wash our clothes because we/they would smell so bad!).

Filling a Storage Unit with everything we Own

I'll remember this moment at the storage unit because it was the first moment of fun in our day, and one of the only moments of fun in our week. At one point, Ken estimated that he had spent over 70 hours in one week, working at the house. I put in almost the same number of hours as he did, so you can imagine how tired we were!

Sunday, March 11

Ever since I woke up on Thursday feeling sick, I had been plowing through day after day. I don't know if I've ever been so grateful for a "day of rest" than I was on Sunday! Ken took the girls to church and I stayed home (at his parents' house) to rest up and try to get better.

Monday, March 12

Monday marked the start of our kids' Spring Break. We hoped to get everything out of our house so that it could be cleaned before the week was up, allowing us to spend some time with the girls while our house got cleaned. It wasn't to be though and they ended up spending time with cousins, friends, and grandparents a lot while Ken & I continued our work at the house. We were glad we had spent a week together at Disney World just prior to all of this! Monday we threw more things out, gathered laundry into bags (SO MUCH LAUNDRY!), and met with contractors.

Meanwhile, Ken was trying to keep up on emails about a few jobs that he had been looking into since before our trip to Florida. We also took our car in for an Emissions Test this day. It was weird to do something "normal"! Every time we went into Walmart or Canadian Tire for supplies or for the car, it was a strange reminder to me that other people were experiencing normal life at the same time as I seemed to be in this alternate universe where everything revolved around the smoke damage!

\What to get rid of after smoke damage

As if there wasn't enough packed into this day, it was also the day that we got our final opinion about toys. The consensus was the same as the Tupperware (anything plastic or stuffed that kids play with needed to go, for health risk reasons).  Once we were sure we needed to do that, we set aside our emotions and started throwing out toys. When we got to our Fisher Price Little People sets my emotions broke through and I cried; again, for the loss of my tiny girls & what those toys represent! I also put out the stroller that I mentioned in my last post.

Below are some photos of that doll through the years. I remember my mom wanted to give her a doll stroller for her 2nd Christmas, and this one happened to come with a doll. For some reason my little girl just loved that doll with all her heart! She named it "Deta". The name stuck all these years and she was a most-loved and precious toy.

Fisher Price Little Mommy Newborn Doll

That evening we took the girls out for frozen yogurt which was a lovely break from all of the stress! On the way back to Ken's parents' house, the girls started asking questions that we couldn't dodge and we ended up telling them about having to get rid of most of their toys. Our plan had been to wait to tell them until we had some replacement toys to help ease the blow. Right away they asked about each of their favourites and our little outing away from the stress took a sudden turn. There were tears. Lots of tears. My heart broke as I comforted my girl while she mourned her beloved Deta. It may just be an old doll with a plastic head (complete with marker drawn on it) to anyone else, but to her, she was losing a long time friend. I later searched online to try and find a replacement (even though I know it wouldn't quite be the same as Deta), but sadly it isn't made anymore and is very difficult to find.

Fun at Grandma and Grandpa's House

Both girls were feeling better by bedtime when Ken's dad told them bedtime stories as they settled in to sleep. This was a very hard and very sad day overall, so it was a relief to see them smiling again!

Tuesday, March 13

We rented a truck and some of our friends came over to help us wipe down and move furniture to our storage unit.  Others washed and packed our dishes. We were hopeful that we'd be able to save the furniture that we took to the unit that day, but would later discover that not all of it would survive the smoke & soot.

Moving everything we own to a storage unit

We got rid of a TON of things this day and got a lot done. It was not as difficult emotionally because we weren't getting rid of things that we were attached to or that were particularly special to us like the day before. We kept our couches in the house as we hadn't yet determined the best way to have them cleaned and were still hopeful that it could be done.

Here's what our purge pile looked like at the end of the day:

Getting rid of most of our belongings

I left the house earlier than Ken this day so that I could take the girls to see A Wrinkle In Time at the theatre. Again, it was good to get away for a bit!

Wednesday, March 14

We took our car in to have the doors fixed (on our way home from Florida, the back door handles both stopped working... when it rains, it pours!).

My parents and sister-in-law came to help us out again with cleaning & packing boxes to take over to the storage unit. My brother joined us when he was finished at work and brought Swiss Chalet take-out for dinner. We didn't think to ask for utensils and then realized that all we had in the house were 2 spoons so we felt a little like we were at Medieval Times. haha  It was so good to have help and company and people to laugh with!

Swiss Chalet Take Out Break

Ken spent some time talking on the phone about one job offer today and has a phone meeting tomorrow about another. No rest for the weary!

Thursday, March 15

Some friends of mine came over and helped us with cleaning and packing all morning. When it was lunch time I was emotionally spent (yet again) and Ken suggested we go to Cora's to eat. I love Cora's so this was a very welcome respite!

We went back to the storage unit & found out that many of the things we thought were clean, were not. We had to throw out our mattress and we started to wash our bedroom furniture a second time to try to save it. More friends and family met us that evening as we continued moving things over to the storage unit.

Loading a Queen Foam Mattress into a Mini Van

Friday, March 16

We worked at the house again, but took a break in the middle of the day to go to Ken's parents' house to do some laundry & organize some of our things at their house. Taking time to get out of that smoke smell (which wasn't getting better) became more crucial the more time we spent in it.

Back at our house in the afternoon, the two of us stood at our bedroom window watching as the garbage truck came to pick up and crush our things...

Getting Rid of a Huge Pile of Stuff A Major Spring Cleaning Purge

I remember feeling sad as I watched the canvas from the wall in our bedroom get crushed. It was like a representation of what was happening to everything around us!

We were drained and we were tired but we were excited to know that we were close to getting the house empty so that it could be cleaned! We also received good news that Ken was the first pick for a job he had applied for and that they would be flying him in for a visit later in the month.

Stay tuned for part 4 in this crazy saga!
(or you can go back to part 1 to start at the beginning)

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  1. Wow! I’ve been reading your posts about this! It must be so hard for you and your family to go through this and have to throw out so much stuff (I know it’s more about the sentimental value.) I hope the process goes smoother for you and things start looking up! xo


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~Heather Lynne