Last Sunday’s house fire may have taken all of Greg and Jana Copeland’s possession, but thanks to a little smart thinking their road to recovery is much shorter.

Greg Copeland thanked the community for their support as he and Jana continue recovering from the fire, but thanks to their home insurance plan through Germania, completely starting over from scratch will not be necessary for them.

“It’s been awesome. I work at Superior Essex. I’ve been there for 32 years,” Copeland said. “It’s crazy how good people are. As far as the insurance, they put me in a hotel and are still going over everything. Germania is good and I haven’t had any problems with them at all.”

The fire began last Sunday night after Copeland finished mowing. Brownwood Fire Marshal Buddy Preston attributed the fire to Copeland’s lawmower, which quickly spread and required assistance from Blanket, Zephyr, Lake Bridge, Lake Dam, Winchell and Brookesmith to tamp it down. The home’s previous owner, Frank Griffin, stated on the Brownwood Bulletin Facebook page it was a sad day for Brown County considering it lost its oldest standing structure. Billy Connell built the main room in 1858 and over the years additions were added on and the Copelands were in the middle of remodeling the project, which at this point is considered a total loss.

“It’s something I can’t imagine … It’s a total loss,” Copeland said. “The adjuster asked me the other day ‘How’s the roof look?’ He’s from another town and hasn’t seen it, but I said ‘There is no roof.’ He said ‘How’s the ceiling?’ I said ‘There is no ceiling.’”

Along with losing his home to the fire, the Copeland’s also lost all of their belongings and spent the first few nights after the fire purchasing essentials to get them by. Copeland said the most important part of avoiding losing everything in the event of a disaster is to keep important documents in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box, and keep a detailed list with pictures of all possessions.

“You think I know where this and this was, but you don’t,” Copeland said. “You can’t remember it. You have so many different things. There were deer heads on the wall, guns. We picked up one gun and it was just the barrel. Everything else melted … Log down what you have, take some videos and pictures and keep them away from the house.

“Get a safety deposit box, keep them in there. I didn’t have any money burn up or anything like that because what money I had was in a bank. I had my car titles, things like that and any other paperwork in a safety deposit box that I’ve had for 10 years. That saves a lot of time.”

Copeland said the most difficult part of the recovery process has been the emotions in dealing with the loss. He added he is fortunate to be financially stable enough to sustain himself and Jana through the ordeal, but many going through the same process are not as fortunate.
“My wife said ‘What are we going to do?’ I said ‘I got a credit card,’” he said. “Not everyone has credit cards. That helped. We got a hotel and that night we went to Walmart and bought clothes. That is all we could do, especially when you have to go to a hotel at 1 a.m. at night. The Red Cross was there for people who don’t have it and they would have taken care of me.”