Charred Memories, Student Rises From Ashes


Photo by Emily Carroll

It happened while she was at school.

A’Driana Beaver laughed with friends and conversed over lunch while firefighters smothered the flames that had engulfed her home, unknowingly to her.

Completing a normal day at school, A’Driana hopped into her father’s car.

It smelled of smoke. She thought her father had been working on their car again, which would explain the black on his fingertips.

“Did you do to something to the car?” she asked.

“No,” he said quietly. “Our house caught fire.”

A’Driana figured he was teasing–he always messes around she said.

“You’re joking.”

“I wish, I’m not in the mood to kid right now.”

His look said it all. He was telling the truth.

The event marked the first time she had ever seen her dad cry.

Freshman A’Driana Beaver’s house caught fire Feb. 6 completely destroying her home.

The water heater pipes had been frozen and burst, and the house’s heater started the fire under the house which spread to the rest.

“It’s pretty much just the framework left: our house is still standing, but everything on the inside is gone,” she said. “In my room and in the kitchen, there are two or three big holes where you can see everything through them: the pipes, the other rooms.”

To passersby, the shell of the house remains a normal residential appearance, but from the backyard, the damage is visible from the smoke blackened windowsills and water damage stains to the remnants of clothing and scorched toys.

“We went to Walmart after school so I could get clothes and shoes for the next day,” she said. “All my clothes were gone. I had to get clothes, shoes, shampoo, everything I needed. Everything.”

Not only were A’Driana’s daily necessities lost in the fire, but almost all her souvenirs from past trips were ruined also she said.

“I looked for all my Disney trip stuff I got from my trip in eighth grade,” she said. “The pictures I got on my phone had been deleted by a phone malfunction, and now everything but my memories from that trip are gone.”

The souvenirs were hard to lose, she said, but there was one item she couldn’t bare to part with no matter the damage done to it.

“When I first moved here to live with my dad, he bought me a white jewelry box with glass designs all over it and I’ve kept it since I was eight,” she said. “I looked for that immediately, but after the fire it was solid black and all the glass was shattered. The jewelry inside was ruined. I took it with me even though it was broken and now ruined.”

With her material possessions gone, A’Driana relied on friends to get through.

“I stayed the night with my friend Jordan Vinson,” she said. “She didn’t know anything about it; she thought that everything was fine. Her family found out about it a couple hours later because my dad called and asked if I could stay there for a little bit.”

She got to the Vinson’s house while Jordan was gone to birthday party. While she was by herself, A’Driana spent time thinking about the fire.

“When Jordan got home from the party, I took a long shower,” she said. “I didn’t really talk much about it that night, and Jordan understood why. I went to sleep early that night, really early.”

Waking up, A’Driana thought it was a horrible dream.

“I’ve never felt that before, never experienced anything like that,” she said. “I woke up and I realized that it wasn’t a dream. It really did happen; my house really did catch fire.”

Little information had gotten out, and A’Driana said she wasn’t really mentally there “since it was just the day after.”

“Not a lot of people knew about it,” she said. “They knew it had happened, but they didn’t know it was me.”

Word only began to spread once band director Loy Studer spoke with A’Driana about her off personality that day.

“We went to Walmart after school so I could get clothes and shoes for the next day,” she said. “All my clothes were gone. I had to get clothes, shoes, shampoo, everything I needed. Everything.”

“I told Studer everything that had happened,” she said. “He sent out an email asking teachers to not be so hard on me because of everything that was going on.”
Teachers understood A’Driana’s situation and relaxed their discipline on her.

“I just kind of slept in every class for a bit,” she said. “I just wanted to not have to think, to not have to deal with people.”

Her mind was elsewhere anyway. Worries about sleeping arrangements at the hotel provided by the insurance company clouded her mind. Seven people would have to live two weeks in a two bedroom suite with tree beds at the Lexington Hotel.

“We had some people sleeping on the floor and some on the couch,” Beaver said. “We would switch who got the beds for those two weeks.”

“One weekend I spent with my friends and we went off and did our own thing for a while,” she said. “It made me forget everything that had been going on just or a bit.”

Rough nights and the surrealness of the situation only added to the nerves everyone was feeling A’Driana said.

“My parents are really overly stressed out right now,” she said. My step mom and my step sister had lived in that house longer than my dad and us, so they are really upset since this is where they lived for the last 15 years.”

At school, people want to help.

Rider band didn’t let one of their own go it all alone.

“They raised money all on their own,” A’Driana said. “I didn’t ask them to do that. They raised about $350 as far as I know.”

A’Driana’s family has received dishes and daily household necessities donated to them, as well as support that the band has given to them.

“It seems like a lot, but it’s just a drop in the bucket,” she said. “The money we are using isn’t ours; the insurance is paying for everything.”

Although the fire has shaken her world, she said she feels people are making it bigger than it is.

“They make it seem that I have lost my whole family,” she said. “It was just my house. No one was hurt, but all our stuff is messed up.”

Her every day routine has had to change because of the fire.

“I can’t stay after school anymore for tutoring or get here early enough to get everything done,” she said. “I get to school late every day because we have to get seven people out in two cars. I can’t be on any JROTC teams because I can’t stay after since I have to be at Jefferson at a certain time, so I can pick up my sisters and walk to my friend’s house so she can take us home.”

That every day walk past her home brings about strong feelings for A’Driana.

“I miss my home,” she said. “I have to pass by my house where I used to eat and sleep and play when I was younger.”

And for a while the house was left unattended because of the money transfers from the insurance to the company responsible for the reconstruction.

“It was just sitting there,” she said. “No one had the money to do anything with it. But now, they’ve taken the whole house apart: gutted the walls.”

Even with the progress made, A’Driana still won’t be home for her 16th birthday.

“It probably won’t be until summer when we get back,” she said. “I’ll be in there my sophomore year, but what kind of 15 year old has to deal with all of this?”

When she gets the chance, A’Driana pulls out her headphones and ignores the world.

“I listen to music when I am in a bad mood or thinking too much,” she said. “One weekend I spent with my friends and we went off and did our own thing for a while. It made me forget everything that had been going on just for a bit.”

That was the first time she had genuinely smiled she said.

“I give little [smiles] all the time, but they aren’t real.”

The smiles aren’t real now, but A’Driana is working to make them real once again.