January 14, 2009

Update Fire and Recovery

My dad has managed to cheat death two times in four days. God must really have more for him to accomplish here on earth. First the house fire on 1/8/09 that mom and dad just barely escaped and now dad is in the hospital with much more than a dislocated hip. This is his third night in the hospital after arriving on Sunday evening. He spent the better part of Monday in the operating room where the doctors opened him up in an attempted to relocate his hip. They where not able to place the hip manually and instead opted for surgery. Within moments of entry it became evident that his leg was full of infection. This was a very unexpected discovery and it soon became a critical circumstance to the degree of toxicity in his body. There was discussion of possible amputation of dads entire right leg. Thankfully the doctors went with a less aggressive tactic, which was to remove as much infection as possible, this included allot of bone and muscle. They also removed his artificial hip that had been placed several years ago.

So with that said, dad now has at least a months stay scheduled at the UW Hospital. The plan is to rid his system of infection with antibiotics for 6-8 weeks then go in again and clean any thing else out. At this point they would close him up and again and try to rid his body of any remaining infection for another 6-8 weeks. After this 12 week period of time it will be evaluated if he can have a new hip custom made for a man of his size and also condition after bone and muscle loss.

Again we find ourselves in a state of shock and our priorities in life have been drastically confronted, tested and grately defined. I am so proud to be their daughter and I am so blessed by my parents strength and courage over these past few days. Believe it or not I have heard more laughter then tears and I am in awe of the words I hear them speak to one another. Things so simple as dad saying "Hello Beautiful" or "Our life is going to be much different now" and mom responding with"At least it is a life!" My sister Allison and I have been blessed with the most wonderful parents on the planet.

We are all in awe of Gods sovereign hand of protection over my family this week. I believe the Lord above honored and answered many prayers that Scott and I have uttered with our children. "Dear God please watch over grandma and grandpa on the farm, protect them and keep them safe as they chase after their dreams everyday."

I'm grateful my folks are alive, Iam grateful they couldn't manipualte his leg back in plac and instead discoved internal infection that was most likely days from takng his life, I am grateful my dad did not preheat the oven and run a quick arrand while mom slept, I'm grateful my dad thought to turn the gas line off, I'm grateful to all the fire and rescue people who worked so hard and that non of them where injured, I'm grateful for all the friends, family and total strangers that have shown so much love and support to my family. Thank you for the food, clothing, funds...thank you for the phone calls, guidance and encouragment. Thank you for your listening ear, your hugs your prayers. Our family is overwhelmed by your love and we are grateful for you and we are grateful to our heavenly father for giving us more time with one another.

I am headed to Orcas to tend the farm, feed horses and meet with the fire inspector and insurance adjuster. Luke is going to love riding the trackter with mommy and he is looking forward to playing "fireman" when we get see the burn site and sift thru the rubble.

Today I found another more personal article written about what my parents went through and yes one more picture:


Wednesday, 1/14/2009 2:01 am
Fire destroys Eastsound home
By NINA LARAMOREIslands Sounder Reporter Today, 12:05 AM · UPDATED

In many ways, Doug and Jeri Smart were fortunate. As lucky as two people can be, who spent Thursday evening in a neighbor’s truck, barefoot and barely clothed, as they watched firefighters wage a losing battle to save their home and belongings.

“Doug was going to warm up the stove before he went to run an errand to the pharmacy,” Jeri said. “I went to lie down and fell asleep. If he hadn’t waited to preheat the stove until he returned, I probably would be watching all of this from up above.”

She woke to Doug’s hysterical cries of her name and “fire.” Grabbing the phone to call 911 and running out the door, she saw sheets of flame completely engulfing the kitchen.
San Juan County Fire Marshal Robert Low and the Orcas Island Fire Department are still investigating the apparent propane stove fire that destroyed the Smarts’ home at 180 North Beach Road on Jan. 8.

The Fire Department’s Eastsound Engine 21 responded within nine minutes to Jeri’s emergency call at 5:41 p.m. Division Chief Patrick Shepler was one of the first on the scene and found the house fully engulfed in fire.

“They barely escaped,” Shepler said. “When we arrived we saw fire shooting from every window in the structure. There was a barn just 10 feet away from the home that had paint thinner, lacquer and all types of flammable things inside. We were lucky to save it.”

Twenty-seven fire and rescue workers attacked the blaze, cut a whole in the wall of the barn, and injected compressed air foam to stop the fire from spreading. The fire was declared under control at approximately 6:50 p.m. although, firefighters were on the scene until 10:30 p.m. tearing down the unstable walls.”

In addition to Doug and Jeri, their dog Cowboy and their 12 horses all escaped injury. The Smarts also feel fortunate to have their bed and breakfast, Walking Horse Farm, on the property so they have a familiar place they could move right into.

Neighbors started arriving with food and offers of clothing while the firefighters were still on the scene. Jeri had only the pajamas she was wearing when the blaze broke out, and Doug had on only his shorts.

“We were numb,” Jeri said. “We just felt disbelief at what we were seeing. All of our better and nicer more personal items were in the house. My parents had just passed away last year. Many of my mother’s precious things that she wanted the family to have were destroyed.”
“We appreciate nice things but we are not a family about things,” she added. “We have two wonderful daughters and two wonderful grandchildren. We will use this as an example to show the children how life goes on when tragedy strikes.”

But not everything was destroyed after all. On the morning after the fire, as the fire marshals began looking through the house, they discovered a plastic bin of photographs. It may be the only item to have survived the fire intact. Jeri says the bin contained an “amazing amount of history” that her mother-in-law had compiled about her husband.

“There have been tears, and there will be more tears, but there also has been some joy,” Jeri said. “People we know, and people we didn’t know, have all treated us like we were best friends. They have brought us dinners, food, groceries, and offers of help. They have been amazing.”

The first step for the Smarts will be to get their identities back. They have no licenses, birth certificates or wallets and the keys to their vehicles melted in the fire. All have to be replaced.
“We have to start from the beginning,” Jeri said. “We are go-forward people. We can’t do anything about what has happened. We just have to keep functioning and move forward.”

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