It’s been a week since the fire. That night (early morning, really) firefighters pulled out our electric meter and turned off the natural gas and water lines. The first order of business was to get them back on.
We found a master electrician who was at the beach on vacation when I called, but drove two hours with his assistant, on the spot, to help us get the power back on. He disconnected a line running to the workshop, and another line running up the back corner of the house, which was encased in pvc pipe that had burned along one side. So far I haven’t figured out what this second line did, as everything in the house seems to be running as normal. It appeared that three major lines above the electrical box may have been damaged in the fire, which is apparently why the meter was pulled, but our electrician explained to fire officials why nothing was wrong with the lines, and a guy from the utility company miraculously showed up with a new meter. So before noon the day of the fire, we had electricity.
The rest was trickier. On Sunday, my brother-in-law and I got the water turned back on, but the main effect this had was to cause a double fountain, as water poured from two valves on top of the water heater which, of course, was located in the work shop and had been heavily damaged. We ended up calling a plumber to cut and plug pipes running to the water heater. By the time this was accomplished, it was the end of the day. But we had water. Cold water, but water nonetheless.
On Monday morning the plumbers came and plugged the gas line running to the water heater, tested the gas line for leaks, found the line was solid and turned the gas back on. They also plugged another leaking pipe by the water heater. This gave us the ability to turn on the gas stove (and to run the furnaces, but hey, it’s August).
We have to relocate the water heater, and for numerous reasons, it would be difficult to do so inside the house. So we’re having a small free-standing structure built to hold the heater. However, this requires two permits from the city, and time. Thus we have no hot water, although I have been filling a large pan and boiling water to do the dishes, and to serve as the basis of an occasional warm bath. But the usual for me has become a cold shower. This would be much worse in February than it is now, however, I do recall with great fondness and longing the wonderments of warm showers.
Meanwhile, we were able after several false starts to get tow truck drivers to arrive with trucks that actually fit through our back gate so that they could remove the burnt-out hulks of metal that used to be our vehicles. With this accomplished, we’ve been able to schedule a crew to bring in a big dumpster tomorrow and start cutting up and hauling out the remains of the workshop and its contents. I am led to believe that they will cart of each piece of shattered glass and then power-wash the remaining cement slab and driveway.
I will be happy to see this sight, while peering out the laundry room window, draped in a towel and still a little wet from a hot shower.