Through fire and flames
May 29 was a windy day. Both Paul and Diane Overby had been working out in the fields near the 97-year old Simonson home – which they moved onto their land from Agate and were in the process of remodeling.
After finishing her work, Diane went to Agate to drop off an anhydrous ammonia tank, and to Bisbee to refuel. She then headed home.
Paul had finished seeding and looked up. Both he and Diane saw black smoke from a distance. Their home was on fire.
Paul headed for the house and called 911. Upon getting to the house he first tried to get in through the back door of the home, but the fire was active enough to blow windows out. Using a post, he was able to open another door and retrieve their laptop computer from the home office.
When Diane returned around 3:15 p.m., emergency crews from Mylo and Rolla were on the scene. She recalled a police officer having to park his car back up the hill away from the house, due to the flames giving off so much heat. A propane regulator gave way, sending a flare outside. There was little emergency crews could do; the house was engulfed in flames, taking with it the Overbys’ antiques, clothes, construction materials for their house, business and farm records, a Highlander SUV and keys, and their cat, Camille.
“One of the neighbors turned to Paul while all this was going on and said, ‘I suppose you don’t have anything but the clothes on your back.’ ” Diane said. “Paul said, ‘I suppose you’re right.’ “
For more than a month since the fire, Paul and Diane lived in the home of his parents, who lived a mile away.
“It takes a while to realize how fortunate [we were] in terms of having a home to live in as opposed to living in a hotel,” Paul said. “That happens a lot with people in disaster situations.”
Neighbors, friends and even complete strangers have helped the Overbys since the fire. In addition to prayers and words of encouragement, the Overbys received donations of quilts, food, clothes and even time helping them seed crops.
“We were amazed from the get-go,” Diane said of the response from the area.
The Overbys began the process of starting to rebuild. They are currently looking for a carpenter for construction from the ground-up, and they have also met with Rugby Homes.
“Insurance checks can buy the stuff, but they can’t buy the time,” Paul said. “It takes a tremendous amount of time to recover from this.”
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