Allen only had his Colonial 23 for several years when the unexpected happened. Listen to him tell his story, along with the photos of his saved valuables after lightning struck his garage:
Dear Liberty Safe,
My detached garage was a 30 x 32 two car, wood frame , built in 2003 following my retirement from the oil industry. It contained my hunting and fishing equipment (boat, motor & fishing tackle, etc), lawn & garden equipment (lawn mower & yard tools, etc). It was also my home office for my small electrical contracting business, and my Colonial 23 Liberty safe.
After building the garage, I soon realized the need for a home safe. After shopping around for a while, I chose a “Colonial 23” Liberty safe from Mike Ward’s in Mobile, AL (Jan 17, 2012). There were several reasons for making that choice: Made in the USA, good price, quality product, and many of my friends had them. Also, it would fit in the small closet I had available, and they would bring it out and install it.
Grand Bay, Alabama is a quiet little community, located off I-10 exit 4, in Southwest Alabama near Mobile. We frequently have heavy rain and thunderstorms. On the night of the fire (Monday April 28 - 29th) a severe thunderstorm had been forecasted for our area. When I finished work on Monday evening, I locked up everything, set the alarm, and drove the truck to my 2nd home nearby. Normally the truck is parked near the garage.
Monday night was indeed a stormy night as predicted. Heavy rains, hail, and severe lightening occurred all night. I was awakened at 4:33 on Tuesday morning by my security service (ADT) who informed me that there was an intruder in the garage. As I got dressed, the phone rang again and it was my neighbor calling to say that lightening had struck the garage and it was completely in flames (gone)!
When I arrived, a few minutes later, there were a couple of fire trucks and a rescue truck on the scene. There were volunteer firemen from three different communities on hand to extinguish the flames and prevent the fire from spreading to nearby houses. Unfortunately, the fire was so intense and burned so quickly that everything was lost. Fortunately, only the garage and nearby trees were affected by the fire. The fire was contained to the garage area and did not spread to nearby houses. My Liberty safe had been put to the test! It would be almost a week before we would know if everything survived.
After daylight came, the Liberty safe could be seen standing in the midst of the burned remains of the garage. I contacted my insurance agent and called Wards to tell them what had happened, and that another Liberty safe had been tested by fire. They told me to contact you. I talked to Dan who told me who to call in this area to open the safe. All of the controls to open the safe were burned off by the fire. I covered the safe with a cover to protect it until the locksmith could arrive to open it a few days later.
I waited patiently with my camera (I-pad) in hand as they opened the safe, hoping that everything had survived. The safe contained many items of personal value, things like my late wife’s purse with all her credit cards, drivers license, and her last $100 dollar bill. My granddaddy's old 12 gauge single barrel shotgun, my anniversary tie pins from work. there were many other items such as my business papers, etc. It was packed full!
Finally the safe was opened, and I was very pleased that everything had made it through the fire. The contents of the safe were the only things that survived. We hauled everything else off in a truck or dumpster.
Many people who knew about the fire have inquired about the Liberty safe. Some of them already have liberty safes, others say they want them.
Its been almost 6 months since the fire. All of the debris has been removed. I gave all the burned scrap metal away (including the safe) to an old man who needed money. The concrete slab has been cleaned, several large oak trees have been removed that were burned, and a new taller garage has been built on the same spot where the old one once was. I built a larger room for the new safe I plan to have in the near future.
An old saying down here in the South is that “lightening doesn ‘t strike in the same place twice”, but just in case that isn’t true, I plan to be prepared anyway.
Allen in Alabama