On Monday morning Tom Murphy woke to a living nightmare.
His daughter was getting ready for school when she noticed a haze fillling the house. He checked all the rooms in the house, but found nothing. Then he saw it: Flames shooting from the southwest corner of the house, near the chimney. The blaze had already spread to the siding.
The family evacuated immediately. Though the fire was building in intensity, he was able to beat it back a bit with fire extinguishers until the Apple Valley Fire Department arrived at the home in the 900 block of Redwood Drive. By that time, the smoldering blaze had become a three alarm fire, Apple Valley Fire Chief Nealon P. Thompson said, and both Burnsville and Lakeville firefighters were called in to help. The fire was declared under control by 90 minutes later.
Thompson described damage to structure as "significant but not a total loss."
"It was very localized," Tom Murphy said. "We have smoke damage, but not the kind you would see in a big, raging fire. We're lucky to have relatively minor damage."
He added that the extent of the loss was limited thanks to the firefighters' efforts to minimize collateral damages.
"They were so good about what all they did. We have a very nice rock wall in that part of the house and they did all they could not to destroy it," Tom Murphy said. "They did an excellent job."
Nevertheless, the family will not be able to live in the house for three or four months while the home is rehabilitated. For now they are staying at a hotel. In spite of the hardship that has befallen them so close to the holidays, the Murphys say there is a silver lining.
"We're very fortunate to have gotten out. In that respect I'd say it was the best day of my life," Tom Murphy said.
Angie Murphy added that they have been overwhelmed by the generosity of their neighbors, friends, family and her co-workers, who have all pitched in to keep the family fed and in good spirits.
"They have helped us tremendously. I want to thank you to all of them," Angie Murphy said. "You can never say it enough."
The investigation into the cause of the fire is still pending, Thompson said on Thursday. This is the second fire in Apple Valley in less than a week. On Dec. 7, two people were injured in a fire that struck an Apple Valley condo.