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The North Bend Eagle


Heat, smoke damage family home

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 9/22/10

Mike and Sara Bourek have owned their home in North Bend for six years. Like many, they were remodeling it one room at a time. They had recently remodeled their living room and Sara was stripping the old tub in the bathroom to refinish it. While she was waiting for the fumes from the non-flammable stripping fluid to dissipate, she decided to take the family dog, Oscar, for a walk. She got him out of the kennel in utility room and started out around 11 a.m.

Sara had her cell phone with her and she received a call from her next-door neighbor and sister-in-law, Autumn Bourek, saying that a friend had called her saying there was smoke coming out of Sara’s house. Sara stopped a young man who was driving by and he took her to her home.

At home, Sara found the North Bend Fire Department and her home with smoke billowing out of all the windows.

“It was a quick deal,” Mike said. “It was over in half to three-quarter of an hour. It was not a very big fire, but very hot.”

North Bend Fire Department responded at 11:53 a.m. with smoke and flames noted on approach. According to a report from fire chief Kevin Dubbs, engine crews found heavy smoke with fire coming out back windows. They knocked down the fire and vented the area, then examined the house for any remaining hot spots.

The Morse Bluff Fire Department sent a engine company and man power and Cedar Bluffs Fire Departments sent a latter company and manpower. They were on the site five hours with a total of 15 fire fighters involved.

Mike Bourek was at work in Columbus and by the time he got home, the fire was out with the firemen looking for hot spots. One was found in the corner of the utility room. By 12:30 p.m. the fire marshall was on site. His initial findings said the fire started as a result of a short in the wiring of an upright freezer, an appliance the Boureks had owned for just six months.

From the bottom floor up, everything was damaged in the house built in the early 1900s. The fire department put an estimate of damage at $75,000.

“Smoke was the biggest culprit,” Mike Bourek said.

After the firemen, fire marshall and insurance adjuster left, the Boureks were faced with the reality of the fire.

They had notified school and their children, Dillon, 10; Kory, 8; and Karlene, 6; stayed there until their mother came to pick them up.

The family went through the house looking for things they could salvage. Some clothes were found wearable after being washed with vinegar and baking soda.

Computers, appliances, all electronics and other items on the first and second floor were melted from the heat of the fire. A cleaning service came out and said the furniture was not salvageable. Items in the basement, including a fire proof safe containing CDs with their pictures on them, were saved as well as dishes, silverware, and some metal toys of the boys.

One item, Sara’s everyday dishes that she was wanting to replace, came through the fire with black soot that is easily washed off.

“The one thing I really wanted to replace,” Sara said with a laugh.

The Boureks do have insurance and it paid for an initial hotel room in Fremont, replacement of personal products and clothing items. The family has now rented a house in North Bend.

Relatives came to help. Sara’s father, Steve Ronnebaum from Stanton, came to help haul things out to the dumpster in the front yard. Her mother, Pat, and grandmother, Aggie Frahm from Chambers, were at the neighbor’s washing dishes on Friday. An aunt and uncle from Kansas, Mary Stack and Bill Ronnebaum drove up for a day to help out. Mike’s brother and sister-in-law, Andy and Autumn Bourek have opened up their next-door house for bathroom and kitchen use and to give the children a place to play.

Friends have offered to help wash clothes and helped replenish the Bourek children’s school clothes.

Mike and Sara, who have lived in North Bend for seven and a half years, are looking for a place to rent in North Bend and have a few leads. They are waiting for an electrical engineer to come out and report on cause of the fire and the insurance adjusters report to see if they should rebuild or replace their home.

The Boureks say they are doing okay. They had good insurance and will wait to see the final results there before deciding what to do. They will survive this calamity.

“We have every thing that is irreplaceable: our children and our history (in the form of picturs on CDs),” Sara said, “We’ll do fine.”

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