Most of us (knock on wood) have never been awakened at 1:30 in the morning to find the house on fire. But Sharon (Sherri) Meares Commins and her husband, Steve, are alive today because of an active alarm system with smoke detectors. Their daughter, Melanie, was staying in the den, where the fire started, and her dog barked until Melanie awoke to flames over her head. Thankfully, none of them were hurt, and needless to say, their dog is a hero, “with as many dog treats as she wants.”
Their son, Justin, drove up from his Long Beach apartment to take care of them and Sherri says “Man, the loneliest feeling in the world is when the fire department finally leaves and you are in your driveway at 3 am staring at your uninhabitable smoldering house thinking, uh oh, now what? So, you sigh, get out your cell, and make the call to the insurance company to get the recovery process going.” The insurance company determined that the fire was due to a faulty electrical panel, completely not their fault.
Sherri said that they were “simply overwhelmed by the wonderful kindness of our neighbors and friends—we still marvel at this. My colleagues on the Mar Vista Community Council board helped with clothes, food, finding a rental house, all of it. We were, and continue to be, very thankful for community.” They rebuilt and moved back into their house in April 2011.
Sherri is active as the Chair of the Mar Vista Community Council (in the West Los Angeles area) and says that if you love gardens, would like to invite you to their MVCC Green Gardens Showcase on Saturday, April 21st. Over 90 gardens in the Mar Vista community will be featured, including ocean-friendly gardens, as well as urban farming and native landscapes. Details including maps and self-guided tours may be found at the MVCC website.
Sherri, we are so glad that you survived this fire! She says, “I truly don’t recommend going through a [house] remodel this way!”