Why us? Family watches fire tear apart home

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By Tracy Valencia

Why us?

This was the only thought that crossed my mind as I stood across the street watching firefighters breaking windows and tearing apart the house that we once called home.

After spending a wonderful weekend in Tucson, where our daughter competed in a figure skating competition, when we arrived we found our house on fire. When we first pulled into the driveway there was no evidence of anything out of the ordinary.

I stayed in the car trying to wake our daughter up and my husband started to unload the truck. After about 30 seconds he ran back to the vehicle and told me that we needed to move the truck because the house was on fire. I honestly thought that it was a joke but after a few seconds I realized that he was serious. I immediately jumped in the truck, moved it out of the driveway and got on my cell phone and dialed 911. In a matter of minutes we watched the firefighters extinguish the fire, break almost all the windows and then took an ax to the structure of the home trying to determine if the fire was lurking in the walls.

Once all the excitement had died down the fire investigator spoke with us regarding the cause of the fire. He determined that it was caused by arson. My mind raced trying to imagine who would do something like this to us. We have no enemies, we’re quiet people who work full time and go to school. Everyone who meets our six-year-old daughter loves her. We have no enemies. The fire investigator came to the conclusion that it must have been children playing around who set it on fire. About three weeks prior to our fire there was a utility shed set on fire with the exact same scenario.

For the next few days after the fire we tried to piece our lives back together bit by bit. We ended up staying with my parents until we received a check from the insurance company to pay for a hotel. We returned to the house to salvage what we could and put it into storage. After that we realized that we had some serious decisions about our lives to make. We must decide if we wanted to fix the house, dump it and try to build a new house or move into an apartment for awhile.

Each one of these options had pros and cons. Going into an apartment to me meant that we would probably live there for years and never get a new house. Trying to fix up the house meant putting money into a lost cause. Yet to build a house would mean that we had to go into an apartment for six to seven months and face a monthly mortgage that was more than we were use to.

Another problem we had is with the insurance company. I strongly recommend everyone read their homeowners policy closely and determine exactly what they are insured for. We never realized that a manufactured home depreciates each year. Unlike a new home we were losing money each year.

The insurance company only provided us with 82% of the cost to fix the home. The other 18% of the cost was deducted because of depreciation. Which meant we would have to use our own money to fix the house. The contents in our home were insured for $25,000. We were fortunate that we did not lose more since the cost of cleaning all the salvaged items is starting to add up.

As of today our lives have slowly started to piece back together. We will be leaving the hotel, that we have been in for about a month and moving into an apartment. We decided to have a house built and take on the mortgage payment. We are fortunate that in the last few years we started cleaning up our credit. Trying to get financed for a home when your credit is bad is extremely difficult.

Our daughter has shown no signs of any difficulties due to the fire. She is excited about moving into a new house. She has told me that she does not want to live in the old home ever again!! Occasionally she will question where some of her toys are and we are very honest with her and tell her.

It is amazing how one person having fun can ruin another person’s life. Arson here in Arizona has increased greatly over the past few years. We have had numerous fires that were started by environmentalists. Manufactured homes generally become engulfed in flames with in minutes. We were fortunate that ours was oxygen deprived and did not go up in flames like many do. With insurance costs already high and getting higher each year one must question what people must think when they decide to ruin another person’s life.

This tragedy had made us appreciate what we have and made us thankful that we have each other. The two most precious items that could have been inside the house happen to be here with me today as I tell our story. My precious daughter and my wonderful husband.