Community responds to family devastated by fire
August 27, 2008 · Updated 3:34 PM
ARLINGTON Just imagine everything you use on a day-to-day basis, even the stuff that you dont even bother committing to your memory bank, all gone, said Joe Daves, owner of Jaftys Cycle Works in Arlington. Five minutes was all it took for us. We woke up and it was over.
At approximately 4:30 a.m., Nov. 15, Joe woke up to an electrical fire in the mother-in-law section of the shop that he, his wife Heather, and his four-year-old daughter Eliza called home. All three managed to make it safety, but a recently acquired family pet was lost in the blaze.
Inside of Daves shop were a 1923 T-Bucket Roadster, a 1941 Harley Davidson Panhead, a 2001 Sea-Doo XP Jet ski, and a 1999 riding lawnmower, all of which were reduced to skeletal frames of scrap metal within minutes. In spite of the thousands of dollars that he estimated it would cost to replace the vehicles alone, he reported that complications with his insurance make it likely that his policy will only cover $12,000 of what he lost.
Joe and Heather expressed apprehension about sharing their story, since both of them repeated the refrain that there are so many other people out there, who are less fortunate than us, and neither of them wish to be seen as asking for a handout. Joe Daves mother, Dee, nonetheless asserted that the nearly nine-year-married couple and their child deserve all the consideration theyre already received from their friends and neighbors, plus much more.
Dee was driving Eliza during the flooding Nov. 6, when her car got caught in the rising waters and its engine died. Grandmother and granddaughter were soon retrieved by search-and-rescue crews, and Eliza showed no signs at the time of being traumatized by the event, but Dee believes that seeing her house burn down, barely a week later, has had an impact on the girl.
In the weeks since the fire, Dee is temporarily housing her son and his family at her senior mobile park, by receiving a dispensation from the owners, who normally require their residents to be 55 years or older. For his part, Joe is in talks to move a mobile home onto his property, which Im still paying insurance for, but he expects that the attendant permitting and hauling will make this a costly and complicated process at best.
Joe echoed his mothers praise for the local churches that have furnished him and his family with their current food and clothing, while likewise agreeing with his mothers assessment of Heather as a super person in response to this family crisis.
Shes the breadwinner now, said Joe Daves, noting that, while he has often had to close his shop, as he continues to wrangle with his insurance policy and to seek out new housing for his family, Heather has worked two jobs, one for him and one at the Arlington Haggen Food and Pharmacy, all while still caring for their daughter.
Joes business is another reason why hes been reticent to share his familys struggles, since he wants his customers to remain confident in his service. He acknowledged that a smart man probably would have given it up for a regular job by now, but he enjoys determining the course of his own business, and more importantly, I like being part of this community.
As Joe Daves asked his customers to bear with him, in the midst of occasionally unscheduled closings, he also copes with the loss of countless keepsakes, that no amount of money can replace, by making sure his daughter learns the right lessons from their familys difficulties.
I dont want her to feel like she cant recover, Daves said. We have the strength to bounce back.