On Tuesday, Patty and Joe’s house at 4059 Latona Ave NE was destroyed in a fire. The house has been an iconic standout in the neighborhood for the wonderfully prodigious array of holiday decorations they put out several times a year: Christmas, Halloween, the Fourth of July. Both Patty and Joe were unharmed in the fire, and one of their dogs miraculously survived, but the house, their personal belongings and amazing collection of decorations are lost.
The comments section of the brief story we posted has been full of stories and remembrances of the house, and Patty herself explained what happened:
To all of our wonderful neighborhood friends. It is so thoughtful of you to think of us. Our phones were burned up in the house but we got new phones today so I can tell you all a little bit about what happened.
Joe was standing ouside the back door of the basement, I was upstairs in the living room. I opened the front door to let the puppies outside, Ram and Doc, then went back into the living room and saw white smoke billowing into my kitchen. I went to the kitchen to see where the smoke was coming from, could see nothing on fire but Miss Priss, the cat, was trying to get out of the breakfast nook window. I opened the window and she went out then I looked down the stairs to the basement because that was where the smoke was coming from, all the lights were off and now darker smoke was billowing up, I yelled for Joe, who I thought was in the basement but he didn’t answer.
I grabbed the land line phone on the way to the front door and could hear Joe yelling ‘Fire’ from the back of the house. I went down the front steps, trying to dial 911 but the phone wouldn’t dial, I yelled to the lady on Jeff”s porch to call 911 for me, as I went around to the side of the house where I could see Joe standing beside his car yelling fire.
I could see huge flames coming out of the basement door, I ran back up the front steps to find Ram and Doc, but the living room was now filled with black billowing smoke, I couldn’t see the puppies so thought they had gone outside, I couldn’t breathe so I turned around and went out the front door, down the steps, grabbed the water hose and dragged it around to the side of the house and up the walk as far as I could and started spraying the flames coming out of the basement door.
Our backyard neighbor was standing beside Joe by the car, he came forward and told me I should get away from the house because something might blow up, I kept watering but he took my hand and turned me toward the driveway just as something blew up behind me. I felt a lot of something hit my back and head and the neighbor kept pulling me towards the front of the house, I am so sorry I do not know the neighbor”s name, but he saved my life by pulling me away from the blast.
He and Armon, thank you Armon, got me down the front steps and to the next door’s front steps where they sat me down. I kept asking people to find my puppies but no one could get into the house at that point and no one could see them outside. All of this took place in less than ten minutes and the house was fully engulfed. Joe was not in any danger because he had heard a popping sound while standing outside the basement door, turned around to look inside and saw flames working their way across the basement ceiling, that’s when he left and started yelling fire from the back of his car.
The rest of it you all pretty much know, the firemen came, did what they could to put the fire out, in the meantime people were trying to get me to go to the hospital, I didn’t realize I was that hurt, due to the shock of what was happening. They finally got me into the first aid car and off to the hospital.
Thank you to the many, many neighbors who tried to keep me calm, brought me water, towels for the bleeding hands and more that I can’t think of right now. Thank you to the nurse who I think was jogging by when all this happened for holding my hands and me down and trying to calm me. I wish I knew your name too, to thank you. Thank you Jeff Valentine for riding with Joe when he drove to the hospital and staying with us until you were sure we were okay and thank you Betty Jingling for following them and giving Jeff a ride home from the hospital, I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you then; the doctors looked us over, stitched up my hands which had glass in the cuts, checked out my back and the small cuts on my head and then sent us on our way.
By this time I had been told that one of my puppies had not made it out of the house and had died, the other one was still missing. I think Animal Control took the puppy away, but I’m not sure and still need to find out about him.
This morning my daughter came to our hotel room with Doc in her arms. She had walked around our house this morning looking for her cat, Miss Priss, who I saw leave my house via the window, when she heard a noise inside my burned house. She kept calling for Miss Priss and all of a sudden Doc appeared from inside the burned house. We now call him, Miracle Doc.
I especially thank my daughter, Angela, who left her job early on the day of the fire to come take care of us. She has been awe inspiring by taking care of our needs, dealing with the insurance people etc, etc.
It is our hope that the insurance will take care of everything, only time will tell.
Thank you for the thought of a GoFundMe possibility and I will let you know if we need one. At the moment we are still in shock and trying to understand what happened in the basement to cause the fire.
We will not be able to decorate again for some time but when the time is right we will continue the tradition.
I would like to mention that some one said the neighborhood helped us financially one year with our decorations, however the only monies we have ever received were sent to us via mail one year and if I remember correctly the amount was less than $20. I sent the donor a thank you for it but now that info is burned up and I don’t have the info about who sent it.
We have never asked for and never will ask for remuneration of any kind, our efforts have always been to make the neighborhood, and us, happy at holiday times.
We do receive a bag of candy from one of our neighbors each year at Halloween, thank you neighbor, I don’t have your address or I would send a thank you card. But we sincerely appreciate the thought.
And we sincerely appreciate all of the kind words written about us in this neighborhood medium.
Thank you everyone and we will keep you posted when we have more news.
Patty and Joe
As you heard in there, there was an offer in the comments section to create a GoFundMe account to help Patty and Joe get back on their feet, but for now, at least, they’ve declined the kind offer. However, all agree that if we, as a neighborhood, could gather together photos of the house in all its festooned glory over the years, it would make a fine, fine gift and remembrance for Patty and Joe, and a thank you for the joy they’ve given us.
Helen has volunteered to collect the photos, so if you have some please email them to her at [email protected] (she says “of course, it’s for Joe too!”) If you’ve got more than comfortable in email, just click here to upload them to my Dropbox folder, and I’ll get them to Helen to collect together.
Let’s see how many years and holidays we can cover! Angel has wedding photos taken front of the house in Sept 2013 when it was decorated for Halloween. Would love to see people in costume and caroling other other bits of fun. And if you have stories or notes, please send to them to Helen, as well!
(Photo sent in by Patty herself on Halloween day.)