(Let it not be yours)

The Struggle

For Kristin and Mark Epland, life in Plymouth was good, and they were looking forward to refinishing the deck on their beautiful home. After doing a 4×4 test swatch on the deck, they carefully laid the stained hand towels out on a shelf in the garage with the intention of using them later when the real work began. As they left home to join friends for a pool party, the sun was cheery and bright and so were their thoughts of their own future parties on a newly stained deck.

They’ll never forget the incredible feeling of disbelief when they got the news, drove home and saw the fire truck out front and firefighters working to save their house. The garage and side of the house were a charred mess, and the smell of smoke permeated the stifling air.

As the Fire Department left, the neighbor who had dialed 911 came over with a business card and personal recommendation for Arko Companies since they had worked with us previously for roofing. The call was made, and Arko’s project manager Jake Merten arrived immediately to calmly explain next steps.

The Strategy

We boarded up the house and helped them get in touch with the insurance agent. Clearly, they could not stay in the house because of the dangerous nature of the fumes, so they went to a hotel for the night. We know it’s difficult to sleep well when your home has burned, and you have no idea of what lies ahead. We gave them reassurance that we’d find answers in the morning.

The next day, we met the homeowners at the house, along with the insurance adjuster, fire chief and fire inspector, to determine the cause of the fire and evaluate the recovery process. The homeowners signed a contract with Arko Companies since we had the recommendation of their neighbor and had been there for them as their first responder.

The cause of the fire? You guessed it—the hand towels in the garage that were used to test the stain. Yes, spontaneous combustion is real. The towels started on fire with no help from anyone. They were not in a crumpled pile on the floor, and they were by no means saturated with stain. Who would think these seemingly harmless rags would cause such distressing misfortune?

As Jake and the insurance adjuster examined the house, it was determined that all 3500 square feet of their home-sweet-home received smoke damage and was a total loss. At this point, the homeowners clearly realized the severity of the situation and the necessity of moving to extended-stay housing.

The Solution

Jake explained the process of effectively and safely renovating the home. The fire had started in the garage and burned the conjoining wall of the house. There was considerable damage at the garage entry to the house, the roofing and siding. Smoke had filtered throughout the entire house, so everything needed attention—including all their belongings.

Arko used specialized equipment and processes to remove the odor, a process which can take 3–7 days. Then, an inventory of all belongings was taken, and everything was removed from the house. Sadly, three dumpsters were filled with personal items that were not salvageable. The rest was labeled and sent for specialized cleaning and restoration.

Inside the home, Arko’s craftsmen cleaned, sealed, repaired, replaced and painted, including doors, walls, trim, cabinets, countertops, flooring and carpets. Framing, drywall and electrical work was completed. Roofing and siding were finished, and concrete floors were sealed. Everything in the house and garage was brought up to code and set for inspection.

The Arko team was in constant communication with the homeowners about progress and details, always reassuring them that the house would be ready for a happy household once again. Kristin and Mark were also encouraged by how well Jake and the insurance company worked together and communicated daily throughout the process.

Once the house was inspected and ready, the family’s belongings were released from the cleaning facility, inspected once again, and if acceptable, moved back into the house. The Eplands were finally able to move back to their home-sweet-home after being displaced for ten long weeks. The craftsmanship was beautifully done, and they could settle into a sense of normalcy once again.

The Success

Distressing as it was, the Eplands were relieved that Jake rescued them. They learned firsthand that Arko’s business model is to respond quickly, help people through the rough times and stay with them until everything is settled. Their home is now better than ever. The couple also encourages everyone to pay heed to the combustion warnings on products. Spontaneous combustion is a common cause of house fires, and it doesn’t take much for this to happen.

Thank you, Kristin and Mark, for placing your trust and confidence in Arko Companies and allowing us to tell your story so that others might benefit. We appreciated the opportunity to serve you and were impressed at how calmly you adapted during these precarious times. We wish you all the best!