Rooms Fired Up to Return Home

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Kaitlyn Sudolnik writes, The Rooms are a family of five.

The Rooms are a family of five. Six actually – they own a loving dog named Sadie. The parents Mike and Karen and their three daughters Lauren, 7, Amanda, 9, and Nicole, 12 attend Elementary School in Littleton. When I first met them on August 18 th, 2009, I was greeted with friendliness and handshakes. They even made me brownies! They seemed like a close and cooperative family. Karen Rooms also takes a big part in substitute teaching at her daughters’ school. Her husband Mike is proud of being the patriarch of this loving family. To an outsider, you would never know they had just recently suffered a tremendous tragedy. A fire stuck their house during the night of March 25 th, 2009. It was suspected that the barbeque wasn’t shut off all the way, or if leaves and/or oil self-combusted on the barbeque. “Never keep your BBQ near the house,” Mike says. The family was sleeping peacefully when the fire started. Smoke was filling the house due to open windows on a mild spring night. Sadie the family dog started barking like crazy – jumped on the bed, startling Karen and Mike since it was out of character for her to do that. Mike could see and smell smoke. He screamed to Karen to get the kids and get out. Even though all three girls have fire escape plans and ladders under their beds, they didn’t use them. They just woke and ran. Although the fire was put out relatively quickly, it did devastating destruction to their house. Mike got a little burn on his finger. Other than that, there were no injuries at all. Despite extensive smoke damage to the majority of the house, Nicole’s room was the most destroyed by the fire. The girls lost their rooms and all of the contents. Most precious to Amanda was her fish, Lauren her stuffed animal and Nicole her entire room – all lost in the tragedy. As for their parents, they miss mostly their daughters’ school work, paintings, drawings and treasures that brought memories. “Everything that was plastic… Cups, silverware, laptops, phones, were all melted,” says Karen. “We don’t miss the junk drawers or any of the clutter,” Karen and Mike said with smiles in response to what they lost in the fire that they miss least.When all the neighbors heard, they fled to their fellow friends’ house. Even people that they didn’t know came to offer comfort, which Mike found particularly heartwarming. There was also a family tradition to listen to Elvis while making flapjacks on Sunday mornings, which a neighbor knew about and gave the family a new Elvis CD to listen to to keep up with that tradition. “I really miss the smell and feel of our house,” says Lauren. The Rooms learned a lot that day. As a family, they collectively feel that this tragedy made them closer, stronger, more thankful and appreciative of things usually taken for granted. Nicole added, “I’d like to thank Sadie for saving our lives.”This recovering family lives on the street over from their burned house in a rented home, while their house is being completely reconstructed. The tragedy did not change their daily family activities. They made the rental house feel like home by hanging and displaying what they salvaged from their gutted house. The three girls are looking forward to shopping, setting up their new rooms, getting back to the feeling of their old house when they move back in mid-September. Karen says she is glad her girls are moving forward with their lives, because they really proved that home is where the heart is, no matter what.

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