The Demise of Wills Casa Uno

When I decided to share our first house with y’all, I felt like we really needed to because it has shaped so much of who we are. It’s been almost 9 years, but writing (actually just thinking through writing) this post has been really emotional.

We bought the house in March 2005. October 2005 we had a house fire.


Our alarm clock malfunctioned and created a smoldering fire. There was not a lot of open flame, so it was mostly smoke damage. The house had zero visibility when the firefighters entered.

I was at work. Nick had class in the morning, went home to have lunch and let the dog out, then headed to work. Over the next couple of hours the house was destroyed. Our neighbor didn’t have a number for us, so he called the previous owners who called their real estate agent who called our real estate agent aka my mom.

When I found out I scream Isabella – our dog – and ahead home. I called 911 to let the firefighters know there was a dog in the front bedroom. At this point we had no idea what had happen or the extent of the damage was (I mean Nick had just been home how bad could it be?). Nick got to the house before I did. When I asked about Isabella, he just cried.


This is in the hallway to our bedroom. The closer you got to the bedroom the blacker things were. Since the house was not very big, everything was ruined from the smoke.


When the firefighters entered, they sprayed different areas of the house. The ceiling in the living room fell from the weight of the water. There was lots of wall damage from them checking for hot spots. All of our furniture was pushed in the middle of the room.


That’s the ceiling on the living room floor. There was a mess of drywall, insulation, and ash everywhere. Plus it was wet and mushy.


The cabinets actually looked better with the ash. Notice that we had painted the kitchen red to offset the flesh cabinets. It was an improvement, but I will never paint red again. So many coats. We had also installed a microwave/vent hood to save countertop space. All of the minor changes/updates we had made in the 8 months of living there were ruined.


You could see where every nail in the drywall was. They said it was from the heat. You could also see every imperfection in the wall where there had been patches.


This was the bathroom on the other side of the house. Everything was covered black and wet. You could smell smoke as soon as you turned on our street. We literally had nothing but the clothes we had on. We went to Target and bought some essentials. Then checked into a hotel. Once we laid down the magnitude of the day just settled on us. Then came more and more tears just when we thought we didn’t have any left. We had buried our dog and lost everything we had in a few hours.

I can’t even begin to describe the weight of those emotions. It has changed us in ways we probably won’t ever realize. It might be why Nick and I cling to each other as viciously as we do. We had nothing but each other and were about to begin our first huge remodel with heavy hearts.

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38 Responses to The Demise of Wills Casa Uno
  1. WOW! I don’t even know what to say. I can see what you two are such a strong couple. You have had some huge challenges from early on.

  2. Wow. I can see how this experience would change you forever. I can’t imagine the emotional toll this must have taken, but so glad you were able to move on to where you are today!

    • Amber says:

      Honestly it was a blessing in disguise. Although I would have given anything to have Isabella back, things always have a way of working out.

  3. Oh nooooo. I am so sorry about your dog. That was terrible. ((((((Nick & Amber)))))). I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been. That must have been life changing.

    • Amber says:

      Yes losing our dog was the absolute worst and the only thing we truly cared about. The loss of the house and contents was overwhelming, but Isabella was irreplaceable.

  4. Haley says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your puppy and your home.

  5. Jean Gamber says:

    Wow. You have made me think about a lot of things. Hugs.

  6. Oh, I’m so sorry about Isabella! An alarm clock?! Wow….I mean, not like anyone can see that coming!

    • Amber says:

      Reconstructing the scene to determine the cause was really fascinating. We were shocked that the melted plastic from the alarm clock caused all that destruction.

  7. K, is it weird that this post made me cry? Fires are my biggest fear. I think about them every night before bed. I’m always so scared of them. My uncle is a fire fighter, and he has told me too many horrific stories for me to feel exempt from disaster. It really can happen to anyone at any time. Heart-broken and crushed wouldn’t even begin to describe my feelings if we lost Indy & Buster. I’m so so sorry. We always talk about the first “thing” we’d grab in a fire. I always say my violin and my external hard drive since it has years and years worth of pictures on it. But not being home to even grab “stuff” and knowing everything is lost would be hard. But you’re right. When it comes down to it, you have each other, and that’s it. I can see why you guys are so strong and so close. Going through something that traumatic would force you to be close.

    • Amber says:

      My brother in law is a firefighter too. He said it was the strangest feeling to be on the other end of it. I’m thankful we weren’t home, but then again things might have been better if we were. Who knows. Luckily my wedding dress and pictures were at my moms, so besides our dog there was nothing irreplaceable.

  8. Rachel says:

    Oh my gosh, what a horrible loss! I can’t even imagine what that would be like–to lose your home and all your belongings and your sweet pet all at once. Wow. And all from an alarm clock?!

  9. Court says:

    I did not see this coming when I read about you guys buying your house yesterday…and now I want to give you a hug :(

  10. Anu says:

    Oh No! I’m so sorry that this happened to you. It must have been so difficult.

  11. cassie says:

    oh wow, amber- i am so sorry you went through this. :(

    • Amber says:

      Super crazy but we were definitely more fortunate than most people with a total loss fire. Your neighbors come to mind. That is truly an event that is completely devastating.

  12. I can’t even imagine Amber. I feel horrible just reading this. A fire with my pets at home is my biggest fear but luckily we’re home 90% of the time since Oscar works from home [also, we are hermits]. I just cant even. I hope something good comes of it, even if its just more awareness for you or others reading this. So thankful the two of you were okay! Thanks for sharing

    • Amber says:

      We had a lot of guilt about Isabella. She stayed outside the day before, and it was a really beautiful outside that day too. We had lots of what if’s and why feelings, but you just can’t think like that. I still get incredible sad when I think of her. My parents dog is actually from the same litter (and one of our current dogs is her half sister), so she is in our thoughts almost daily.

  13. Tamsyn says:

    Oh no, I had no idea you had been through this. I can only imagine xx

    • Amber says:

      Blogging about it has been really odd because it’s so much a part of who we are but it’s been so long we aren’t conscious of it anymore. It’s crazy to go back and relive it. So surreal.

  14. Kelli says:

    I’m so, so sorry, Amber. Isabella. :( I’m a new to Wills Casa and I can’t not tell you how sorry I am. It’s so heartbreaking. And crazy! An alarm clock. I’m kind of weird about unplugging stuff, but lazy too. So, there are any numbers of things in my home that could set it on fire. Has it impacted how you feel about things being plugged in? It makes me want to be more aware. My boys have all kinds of things plugged in in their rooms! A home on my street caught on fire after lightening struck it. I drove past it for months with the roof burned off, watching rain fall into it some days. It broke my heart for the couple that lived there. So awesome you guys have a new house adventure going on! So sorry about Isabella. :( :(

    • Amber says:

      Thank you Kelli! I’m really weird about open flames like candles and things that put off heat like a scentsy warmer. I also don’t like to have things plugged in behind furniture. Neither of which were in any way related to our fire, but still make me squeamish.

  15. Oh my gosh, I cannot even imagine how terrible this would have been to go through. I was in tears reading it. What a nightmare! And so scary about how quickly something like this happens.

  16. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    I never knew you could only have smoke damage. I always thought it was going to end up in a fire.
    Poor poor Isabella. So heart breaking. I’m terrified of fires

    • Amber says:

      I didn’t either. It was so crazy. There were a few spots by the bed that were open flame since that’s where it originated. They caught it fairly early, so it didn’t have the opportunity to become a raging fire. I guess the malfunction caused the alarm clock to heat and smoke. Because of how it started, the smoke replaced the oxygen with carbon monoxide and there wasn’t enough oxygen to fuel an open flame.

  17. Cynthia says:

    Such a terribly sad experience. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dog. I was so hoping to read that your dog was safe. My greatest worry has always been a house fire because I love my dogs so much. I would hate to lose my things but they can be replaced somewhat and in the end nothing compares to our sweet companions. I installed a $500 Hale double flap pet door in my bedroom wall last year that goes to the backyard. I’m sure that only pet owners will appreciate the location! It makes me feel more comfortable that my Labradors would have a way to get out of the house if necessary. Right now, I have a 5 month old puppy that is still crated when I’m gone …she cannot grow up fast enough. Blessings to you and your family.

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