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Resilient Rocheleaus

By Staff | Nov 7, 2013

This wall decal was untouched by the fire at the Rocheleau house in southwest Rugby in June. Submitted Photo

Little things kept the Rocheleau family spirit intact in the days after their southwest Rugby house was engulfed in flames in June.

The vermiculite in the ceiling fell lightly over invaluable photo albums, protecting them and other keepsakes from a blaze that started in the garage and swept through the entire house.

It was an easily replaceable wall decal under a burned hole in the foyer ceiling that created one the more incredible images in the debris.

“(The decal) said ‘It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home,’ ” Paula Rocheleau said. “The sun was shining through the hole and it was just shining right down on that.”

How’s that for a warming moment? The decal was a birthday present for Paula from daughter Cali, 21, and her fianc, Robert Richerson, who applied the quote to the wall. The fire was a result of an accident as Richerson worked on a motorcycle.

Cali said her mother and father, Rocky, handled the accident with unbelievable poise.

“Robert put that up for her and it was one thing that didn’t get ruined,” Cali said. “(My parents) have always been really tough together. If something goes wrong, they’ll always go to the other one. They always look at the good side of stuff. They said, ‘It’s just a house, we can make a new one’.”

Rebuilding is underway and the walls of the basement are framed. A new garage floor is down and rafters are in the yard with the hopes of having the entire house framed before winter, so interior work can continue.

Paula said the brick fireplace, which took up considerable space, will not be replaced and the house will be more open. The front of the house was a staple in the community because of the unique ‘A’-like frame that made it in an easily identifiable marker near Ellery Park.

“That’s how people knew. ‘Oh, that house down by the ball diamonds with an A?’ That was it,” Paula said. “It will be quite similar with a little surprise in the front.”?The foundation and five feet worth of brick bordering the house were saved with a quick response from the fire department. Unfortunately, the grey siding and white trim added about a year ago were destroyed.

The Rocheleaus moved one block north after the fire to rent Dan and Dorothy Richter’s house, which was built in 1900. They’ve found it to be quite comfortable, and the transition was smooth with the help of friends opening cupboards and providing a host of services.

“There are many good friends and people that have helped us,” Paula said. “No room to feel bad. We’re lucky people.

“We’re healthy, we’re fine, our family’s together. Many other people have a lot worse things to go through. We’re fine. We don’t have any little kids to help adjust. The community is amazing.”

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