Blog Post


May 30, 2018
5:17 PM

Donna and Gene Larson of Monmouth never imagined it could happen to them. “You read about it all the time,” explains Donna, who has been married to Gene for 61 years. “It just always happens to other people.” But when a fire started inside their home of 35 years, the couple realized that house fires could happen to anyone – even to them. (Donna and Gene are pictured with their children Brad, Steve and Pam.)

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

The Larsons were away for less that two hours on Oct. 21, 2014. The couple attended a planning meeting for their church’s Thanksgiving supper and upon returning home, nothing seemed amiss. “When I unlocked the door, I heard the alarm and felt how hot it was inside the house,” Donna remembers. “I said, ‘What is going on?’”. Gene called 911, and the fire department arrived in five minutes. That’s when they discovered the problem – an appliance that was partially unplugged caught fire inside their home. The home was very tight, which caused the fire to smother out fairly quickly. But the smoke that remained led to heavy smoke damage throughout the entire first floor. The family was devastated to lose their 14-year-old family dog, but other losses were only material. “I just thought, “We are so lucky to be safe,’” Donna says. “It’s just stuff.”

Picking up the pieces.

The shock of a house fire quickly turned to practicality. The insurance adjusters quickly ruled the fire a “large loss.” That’s when the Larsons turned to Werner Restoration. “The folks at Werner were here the next day,” Donna recalls. The first step was removing all of the contents from the first floor. Much of it went into a dumpster outside. “I would rather not watch that,” Donna says. Over the next months, the Werner team worked with the Larsons to repair the damage and get their home back to normal. During this time, the family moved temporarily into another home in their community. “The fellows who did the work here were so nice,” says Donna. “The treated us like we were their grandparents.” But they were anxious to get back into their home – as were their three children, 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.

Life goes on.

On March 14, Donna and Gene moved back home. “It’s really a relaxed feeling that we haven’t had in a while,” Donna explains. “And our house is just beautiful.” Donna marvels at the space, which became more open and bright after the work. She also loves the new paint colors on the wall – a big change from the wallpaper on the walls before. And her family loves it, too. The Larson’s celebrated with their first major family dinner on Easter Sunday. They hunted for eggs, ate together, and reminisced. “That made me feel like this was really home,” Donna says. “And that life will go on.”

The bottom line

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 1.3 million fires happen each year. And there’s a chance it could happen to you.

For more information on fire, visit our FAQ page.

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