2014 house fire
|“||FIRE! 2:00 AM. 911 arrived ten minutes later. Did everything they could; started downstairs; bathroom; electrical; made it to the roof. Considering EVERYTHING, but my mom, both dogs, me, and Lucy and my iPhone, shoes, clothes, whatnot on our backs made it out... Considered physically lost.||”|
|Chris, 10 January 2014|
The 2014 house fire occurred on 10 January 2014. In the early morning hours, a frayed extension cord in the bathroom of 14 Branchland Court sparked and set the house on fire. Chris first mentioned the fire on Facebook, and it was confirmed later that day when Charlottesville's local CBS affiliate, WCAV-TV, broadcast a brief news report on the incident.
|Fire at 14 Branchland Court|
|Direct link||Youtube, archive|
Shortly after the fire, leaked emails and Facebook posts from Chris helped set up his version of the timeline of events that fateful night. What we heard from Chris and what was written in the official fire report obtained months later had some differences. Chris thought that the fire started around 2:00 A.M.; however, the official report states that the 911 call wasn't received until 2:44 A.M. This is in line with what WCAV reported as well.
Chris's Timeline of Events
- 2:00 EST: According to Chris, this was approximately when the fire began.
- 2:00-2:10: Chris claimed that a fire extinguisher was present or was retrieved, and that there was an attempt to extinguish the fire, which ultimately failed. After the failed attempt to extinguish the fire, Chris evacuated the household, along with Barbara and the Chandler pets. Sometime during this period, emergency services were called.
- 2:10: Local firefighters arrive at the scene.
Actual Timeline of Events
The official fire report states that Chris's 911 call was actually received at 2:44 A.M. and that fire personnel were on scene about 15 minutes later. WCAV stated the fire started around 3:00am. Almost immediately, the fire department asked for additional support to help fight the fire. The fire was put out by 6 A.M., and the scene was cleared by 7:00 A.M.
- 2:45: Dispatch tones 4 fire stations (Dyke, Ruckersville, Stanardsville Fire, and Greene County Rescue Squad.) Dispatch relays "Fire in the downstairs bathroom."
- 3:01: Dispatcher relays that a lot of smoke is coming from the basement and flames are visible at the top of the steps.
- 3:01: Engine 11 requests Orange Company provide additional manpower.
- 3:05: Engine 21 is on scene and reports heavy smoke.
- 3:06: Engine 11 is on scene.
- 3:13: BVille (Burtonville?) Fire has been called for support.
- 3:37: Command requests dispatch contact the power company.
- 3:45: The fire has been burning for at least an hour at this point.
- 3:47: Station 2 is called for additional manpower.
- 3:53: Station 1 is called for additional manpower.
- 4:05: Heavy fire coming through roof.
- 4:07: Command requests Hollymead for additional manpower.
- 4:45: The fire has been burning for about two hours at this point.
- 4:47: Madison County contacted for additional personnel.
- 5:00: Rescue 401 leaves scene to transport one patient (Probably the injured firefighter) to Martha Jefferson Hospital.
- 5:22: Chris first breaks the news about the house fire on Facebook. He commented twice on the post in quick succession, lamenting the loss of personal belongings and the memories of his home, as well as stating he was able to salvage his mother's medication and his wallet. At the time of the posting, he was boarding with a generous neighbor.
- 5-57-7:11: All the remaining units on-scene are cleared to return to their stations.
- 7:10: Chris posted an angry comment on Keurig's Facebook page, producer of the coffee brewer, blaming faulty wiring in the product for creating the spark that created the fire. Chris then admitted to operating the coffee brewer within the bathroom after responding to a comment from his friend William Elliott Waterman, who vainly tried to calm Chris down and not seek vengeance so soon after the fire.
- 7:30: Sunrise.
- Later: An e-mail from Chris is released giving more information about the event. It is revealed that Chris and Barbara were allowed to enter the house and retrieve necessities for living from the house, and are currently receiving accommodation from their insurer while investigation and "repairs" are conducted.
There is no official word as to the cause of the fire, but the person who leaked the above fire report documents claims that it was caused by a spark from an extension cord run through the bathroom door, the plastic coating of which had worn away. Chris was using an extension cord in the bathroom to plug in a Keurig coffee maker located in the hallway. The cord was looped over the top of the door, and the friction caused by the motion of the door had abraded the cord, starting the fire. Chris claimed that the brewer was off when the fire started, although he admitted that it wasn't unplugged. Why the Chandlers had an extension cord running out of the bathroom to plug in a coffee maker is anyone's guess, but it probably has something to do with Barb's hoarding. It is worth noting that in Chris's second video tour of his home, coffee cups are spotted around his bathroom sink, suggesting that the bathroom has become the primary source of water. Said video also shows the blatant fire hazard that was the Chandler home, with piles of paper and plastic inside a barely standing structure of dry wood.
Victims and survivors
Chris reports that he, his mother, and his pets Clover, Snoopy and Lucy escaped the blaze unharmed. Unfortunately, Scamper, one of the Chandler cats, was killed in the blaze from smoke inhalation and was discovered by the cleaners and buried in the backyard by Chris.
According to the news report, one of the firefighters suffered minor, unspecified injuries while putting out the fire. Considering how difficult it had been for Chris to navigate his junk-ridden hallways, it is likely that, in the rush to fight the fire, one firefighter may have tripped over the clutter. Chris told Catherine and Al that firefighters were unable to enter the house through either door because of the hoard, and had to climb in through windows.
In the aftermath of the house fire, Barbara found that a knock-off Dali painting and her purse was missing, and believed someone had stolen them. Chris repeated that belief in a personal email sent to a friend, in which he suggested that a "greedy firefighter" or a thief taking advantage of the unlocked door had made off with the items.
Extent of damage
It can be rightfully assumed that the Chandlers escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. Chris wrote that he was able to save his wallet, Barb's medication, some clothes and shoes, and his iPhone (as shown in a later video uploaded through YouTube Capture). Soon after the fire, Chris was also observed on Miiverse, not to mention he eventually bought Super Mario Maker, heavily implying that he managed to save his Wii U and possibly at least one of his 3DS's. He could have also acquired another Wii U, but this is unlikely. He was also seen on his PSN, showing that he either still had his PS3, or that he promptly acquired another (also unlikely.) He even had his old PSEye.
Chris stated on Facebook that everything else was "considered physically lost." However, he later revealed to Catherine that his mother had rented a storage unit to hold items which had been recovered from the house. Al and Catherine also noted that the rental house was piled high with boxes and trash. As is typical of hoarders, Barb probably decided that much that was burned or water-damaged was actually salvageable.
A fan visited the house two days after the fire, and found that while the exterior structure of the house appeared largely intact, there was apparently sufficient damage to the roof that it had to be covered over with plastic cladding. Some of the exterior wood paneling had also warped and twisted, presumably due to being near where the fire was burning at its strongest, though due to the house's exact layout being unknown, it's hard to say where exactly this was. The house's windows had been boarded over (as is standard in house fires of this kind), making it impossible to get any exact details on the house's interior condition.
It is unclear to what extent Chris's personal possessions survived the flames. The Lego High School escaped only partially melted, and he was able to use some of the smokey pieces to reconstruct the structure. He also employed his creative geinus to build a surprisingly-original sculpture out of the damaged pieces. Two copies of his high school yearbooks survived, albeit with smoke and water damage. At least one of his Pixelblocks creations and a medallion survived. In reply to a comment on his eBay auction of his autographed photos, Chris claimed that the "Classic" shirt was lost in the flames; however, three years later, he revealed the shirt had in fact survived, albeit badly damaged. He also confirmed that his Nintendo GameCube was a goner as well. The Crumple-Lope survived the fire as well as some cards from The Wall of Originals. No word on the Sailor Moon poster, the portal to CWCville, the Attraction Signs, the Heart Torch, and the Plush Breasts. Large numbers of schoolbooks and documents also survived the fire, but were thrown away once the renovations began.
Over the year, Chris bought multiple Lego sets to replace those lost. He also bought uncut Sailor Moon DVDs to replace the ones he gifted to Megan some seven years prior.
On April 2017 it was revealed that another famous Christorical artifact, The Classic survived the fire. However, it suffered from severe water damage. Despite that, it did not prevent Chris from trying to sell it on eBay and, when it didn't find a buyer, wearing it himself to special events.
Many of his other possessions were listed on eBay in the years after the fire, confirming they had survived.
Aftermath and reaction
In one of the most interesting and significant events regarding Chris's fanbase, a care package was put together from online donations, initially pooling a few hundred dollars in a matter of hours. The total amount in donations was worth almost a thousand American dollars and consisted of basic necessities with a few amenities thrown in (markers, paints and modeling stuff).
After being sent, an incident occurred when a ween used the tracking number that was posted on the Internet to have the package returned midway. The package was eventually held at a post office in Charlottesville and withdrawn by the Chandlers. Chris made a Facebook post about it, thanking those involved before -- ever the picture of gratitude -- diverging to express his distaste for the CWCki. A note was sent alongside the goods:
Your Sonichu friends have heard about the house fire, and to help you out we put together a care package as CWC as we could! In a few days, 34 donated and collected over $900 towards getting this stuff out to you! Since your bathroom is where it started, I’ve focused on buying toiletries and hygienic stuff to keep you clean and healthy as you recover from the damages. I could not spend all the money collected, so I’ve also included a money order for $500 that you should give to your mother. She can cash it out and buy whatever you guys need to keep chugging. Don’t forget to get something nice for your pets, too!
I know you often feel that life is hopeless, but there’s good in the world and in people. I hope this package helps you see that. No person on the Internet can ever take away your right to be happy. You must find reasons to enjoy life, even when there are enemies trying to bring you down.
I’ve included some arts and crafts to help you take your mind off things. I think your fans would really like to see what you come up with, because it’s been a very long time since we’ve seen anything new from you. Try to create something that makes you happy and that you can be proud of.
Good luck with everything, Chris. Keep hate out of your heart and look forward to each day. We will be around if you need us.
The Return of Chris's House
On 3 December 2014, Chris announced that 14 Branchland Court was being reconstructed, and by January 2015 he was safely moved back in. Between those dates, however, he was forced to briefly stay at Albemarle Regional Jail. Chris's newer videos show small areas of the now-renovated house - Chris's room, whilst still full of boxes of clutter and other things, has been repainted in magnolia and has had the wooden cladding removed, making the room look much lighter and less claustrophobic, for example. In addition, with the fire destroying much of the hoard, the building as a whole is in a much more sound condition, although only time will tell as to how long this will last.
In March 2018, Tour of Chris's House III was filmed, showing the house becoming more cluttered again, with boxes of junk, furniture & toys again piled carelessly throughout the dwelling.
- January 2014 Facebook Posts - Facebook posts Chris posted about the house fire.
- Misc E-mails - E-mails exchanged between Chris and his classmates about the house fire.
- Rental House - The Chandlers' temporary household after the incident.