Christopher Cramer’s home caught fire on Thursday, May 11, and was completely destroyed in the blaze
| 12:00 p.m. May 26, 2017
West Orange Times & Observer
Christopher Cramer was just finishing his work day on Thursday, May 11, when he got the call.
Your house is on fire.
He dropped everything to run the less-than one-half mile down 15th Avenue in Ocoee to his house. The sirens blaring from fire engines weren't far behind.
“By the time they got here, it was too late,” Cramer said.
His house and everything in it had been destroyed. Even the nearby trees had been charred, leaving burnt orange leaves clinging to blackened limbs. Cramer had called that spot home for the last 27 years.
“My whole life is...in that...pile,” he said.
The fire had started in the front of house, but the cause is still under investigation. So far, Cramer was told the cause wasn’t electrical.
When neighbors heard of Cramer’s loss, many of them rallied on Facebook to get him any food, clothing and supplies he needed.
“The people in my neighborhood have been very helpful,” he said. “They have gone overboard to help me, but I don’t need help anymore.”
For the first week, Cramer lived in his truck. Then someone purchased him a tent, which he now has set up in his yard. At this point, Cramer said he has everything he needs and doesn’t need any more assistance or donations.
A Dumpster and storage pod sits in front of his fence. When he isn’t at work, he spends his time sifting through the ashes of his home. Known for being a collector of a variety of items, Cramer said he lost most, if not all, of his collections in the fire.
“It was like a museum in there,” Cramer’s co-worker, Shawn Miller, said about Cramer’s home.
For now, Cramer continues to dig through the wreckage in search of anything that may have survived. Thankfully he had insurance, he said, which is helping him through the recovery process. The insurance company even offered to put him up in a hotel, but he prefers to stay close to home, even though it’s not habitable.
Once he is finished sifting through the ashes, he plans on leveling the charred remains and rebuilding on the same piece of land.
His home was roughly 900-square-feet, and Cramer said that he hopes to rebuild it slightly larger - closer to 1,000-square-feet with a large two-car garage.
“I never expected to ever have to deal with this,” he said. “It makes all the other bad things I’ve experienced seem like small potatoes.”
In spite of the challenges, Cramer said he is trying to remain positive.