Rebuilding from the ashes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 7, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – It’s been more than three weeks since the S. J. Matherne family lost their house to an early-morning fire. They are over the shock, and have started the long process to rebuild the home they lived in for 38 years.

The first step was to remove a motor home parked near the residence. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Matherne’s insurance company and the manufacturer of the motor home. A refrigerator housed in the motor home may have malfunctioned, causing the blaze.

Clean-up of inside and outside debris is currently underway, according to Matherne. His wife, Amber; son, John; and a dozen friends and family members are all working together to complete this chore.

“I am amazed at the way everyone is helping with this,” he said. “We have already filled two dumpsters, and now we are working on the kitchen area.”

He hopes to be done with clean-up duty in a few days, he added. “Then the contractor we choose will come out and take a look at things.” The two contractors that he has already spoken to said the structure would have to be demolished and the family would have to build from the ground up.

Furniture in the home was destroyed or badly charred. Almost all of the family possessions are gone, except for items such as out-of-season clothes that were stored away.

And dozens of books that are shelved on a tall bookcase near the front door seem to have escaped harm.

“It looks like the fire swept right by my bookcase,” said Amber Matherne. The bookcase looks almost exactly as it did on the morning Amber discovered the fire. She was reading a book at the time and noticed the glow of the fire, which traveled from the motor home to the garage, and then into the house.

It should take about four to five months to complete the rebuilding process, according to John Matherne.

John and his wife, Racheal, reside with his parents and are patiently awaiting the time when everyone can move back in again. “We should be back in by summer,” said John.

Although the process to build a new home will take months, John said everyone accepts this, and the family is extremely grateful that no one was injured in the fire.

His wife is expecting a baby, so they are anxious to get their lives back to normal. To that end, the couple, and their parents, have taken a positive attitude to the situation.

“A new beginning is a new start,” said John.