The Worthy Women Recovery Home, which was inches from being done and open to the community, has another few months to go after a fire broke out around 5 p.m. Wednesday at the house.
According to Sonshine Troche, the director of the home, it was caused by a toaster oven. Troche said there was a bag of cat food on the counter, which fell and turned the oven into the ‘on’ position.
La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder confirmed it was the toaster oven after reading the report.
Troche had left just a few hours earlier Wednesday to spend the holiday out of town with a friend. She said she stepped right into her friend’s house when she received calls from the security system and La Porte City Police Department.
“No one was in the house, luckily,” Troche said. The home’s cat Moses was lost for the night, but returned on Thursday morning safe and sound. “It’s overwhelming; I am still soaking it in.”
The fire department was called out at 5:24 p.m. Wednesday and about 25 firefighters were able to break into a window in the back corner of the kitchen. More arrived and entered through the main door, Snyder said.
The fire, which was under control in 15 minutes, was contained to the kitchen, but there was heavy smoke and heat damage to the entire building.
“The damage inside is substantial,” Snyder added. “The heat had built up for awhile. It looks like the food accidentally fell over or was bumped and engaged the ‘ON’ button.”
The damage extends from appliances to the dry wall, to possibly the wiring throughout the house, Troche said.
The new refrigerator and freezer, along with every other kitchen appliance, will need to be replaced. Most of the drywall will need to be taken down and redone, as well as the windows because the heat melted the siding panes, Troche said.
She is afraid the wiring in the ceiling is damaged, but will have to wait to see what inspectors will say.
There was no structural damage to the building, but the floor will need to replaced.
Laura Francesconi, the board director of the home, said she got the call and quickly came to watch firefighters work on the building.
“Watching the firefighters was beautiful,” she said. “They were truly amazing. It was the first time I have seen our service providers in action helping the community, and it was phenomenal.”
Francesconi said the building will keep going on.
“Progress will slow down, but the insurance process will start and we will just keep going,” she said. “We can’t lose faith in the home, God or the community. These ladies need our help.”
Troche said she is thankful no one was in the building, but is devastated.
“We were so close,” she said. “But, we’re going to be okay.”