What happened a few months before the fire: My mother had a recurring nightmare about thieves breaking into the house. So she pestered my dad until he installed a new door knob on the front door, one that locked. Once the door knob was installed, she was happy, and went about life as usual, never bothering to lock the door.
What happened the day of the fire: My mother left 4 of us at Grandma’s house (ages 5, 4, 3, & 2) while she went grocery shopping with the baby (6 months old). She returned to the house from shopping, intending to put the sleeping baby in his crib before coming to get the rest of us from Grandma. But the front door was locked. Rather than walk ALL the way around to the back door, she decided to just take the baby with her.
My father was laying a Formica counter in the new addition to the house. The glue that is used to glue down ( lay) Formica is very flammable. The fumes are also extremely flammable. Dad had gone upstairs to put his tools away and as he reached to set the glue can on the shelf, his overall strap caught on a nail. He missed the shelf and the can dropped. When the can hit the floor, it caused a spark that ignited the fumes in the house and the house basically erupted in flames. The force of the fire pushed Dad down the stairs and out the back door in 2 giant steps. He ran around to the side of the house, broke a window, and pulled out the file cabinet drawer I mentioned before. He also grabbed a box of baby clothes (which it turned out my mom had boxed up because the baby had outgrown them.) If the baby had been in the house, my dad would most likely not been able to save him, and probably would have died trying.
This is the boy who lived because one day in the whole of my parents’ life, someone locked a door:
Here are the rest of us who are also all glad that we weren’t home that day: