Dr. Phil's therapy room fully engulfed in flames
Philip Copitch, Ph.D.
On Thursday, May 15th 2014, I was preparing lunch at home for my bride of 26 years, Geri, and myself. Bruce Middleton, the building manager of the Oregon Street Professional Building called to inform me that my office was on fire and that I should get there as soon as I could. “It’s terrible,” he said. “Your office seems to be taking the worst of it.”
When I got to the office parking lot the building was surrounded by fire personnel. Their huge trucks leaked hoses and fire fighting gear. Heavily clad firefighters seemed to be moving in unison. My end of the building was in flames. Thick smoke bellowed into the bright blue sky.
Men and woman from the office building, who usually only met momentarily in the hallways, stood in clusters, talking and pointing towards the flames. Their bodies were stiff and their faces showed sorrow and concern.
I found Bruce and he told me that an electrician was working on a ceiling light fixture in a small office across the hall from my suite. The day before the maintenance man tried to fix the fixture but he couldn’t get it to work, so they had called an electrician.
Bruce told me that the electrician was changing the ballast when he noticed it was getting hot. Then smoke and a ‘pop’. The area was on fire. The electrician yelled for a fire extinguisher, there was one just down the hall. Bruce then went downstairs for a second one. When the fire extinguishers were use up, the fire seemed to be out.
Moments later there was more smoke. Bruce told me he thought it was coming from the other side of the hallway - from the ceiling of my suite.
Bruce said he ran down the hall yelling, “fire.” He explained that it all seemed to be happening so fast that most people in the building didn’t know there was a problem.
Thankfully, everyone got out safely. Many people who were on the second floor have told me they were surprised how fast the smoke filled the hallway, and then the building.
Contents of office fell onto Oregon Street.
My company mascot is TB the Bear. He was a huge teddy bear that sat on one of the couches in the therapy room. TB, no one knows what the initials stand for, ended up on fire and was thrown out of the window by firefighters. I was told that his smoldering torso landed on a postal worker’s car on Oregon Street.
I have heard stories that while TB was burning, people in the crowd were talking about how they knew TB because their children had been to my office, or because they had gotten help during a rough patch in their own lives.
Along with TB, a couch, a few chairs, and many of my books hit Oregon St. One mom told me that her son asked if he could take a partially burned book cover home. She told me it has a place of honor in their kitchen.
Day after the fire we were allowed to survey the damage.
It didn't take long.
One of the rooms that was destroyed was a storage room filled with many cases of my books. This picture of me holding a scorched copy of my book, Change, seems to fit my sense of humor. (All of my joke and cartoon books were destroyed, along with cases of my parenting book and teen self help book.)
I have been in practice for over thirty years, and I have received lots of stuffed animals from patients and their families. The stuffies all had names, and over time -personalities. Often in my work with children, the stuffies helped me build a friendship of caring. It was common for a child to talk to one of my stuffed bear or dog friends first before they were ready to talk to me. All my helper stuffies except two were lost in the fire.
My German Shepherd stuffy, “Jazz”, who had been invited to a wedding in Seattle, Washington, had not yet been returned to her place on the couch. The original TB was retired 10 years ago when he couldn’t handle being hugged any more and lives in my den at home supervising me as I draw my cartoons.
The kindness of a little angel
A friend’s daughter sent me a photo of herself sitting on her bed surrounded by her stuffies. She told me to pick my favorite one and she would give it to me. What a lovely gesture, but there was no way I could pick one. I did as I was told and circled my favorite in the picture - her - and sent it back to her. A few days later, a lovely and very soft bear was brought to my new office by this sweet angelic child.
It looks to be electrical. But, as you can imagine there are lots of rumors and wild speculation.
The large air conditioning units on the weakened roof are no longer safely supported and are in danger of falling. A crane is supposed to remove the heavy units this weekend. On Wednesday, June 4, fire inspectors are scheduled to return and assess the cause of the fire. It sounds like there are a lot of inspectors from different insurance companies and the local fire departments.
Large air conditioning unit precarious on burned roof.
This use to be the waiting area.
My office content was a complete loss.
My mother was so happy the day I got my diplomas.
The paint was burned off the walls and only memories of my diplomas remain.
Most of the patient files were completely destroyed. Some files were only partially incinerated, these files will be destroyed. Patient confidentially has not been compromised and all partially burned and water soaked files are secure.
All accounting records were secured off site on a back up drive. (This is a reminder to back up your computers.)
All the company’s computers were destroyed in the fire along with my personal Apple MacBook Pro laptop. (It was only 5 months old and didn’t deserve to be melted so young. May it rest in pieces.) Geri’s personal laptop was safe at home.
I found it hard to sleep the first night. I drew this. I have never drawn a Phoenix and found drawing it lifting T.B. out of the ashes very comforting. You probably do not have to be much of a psychotherapist to analyze this piece of art.
No. We reopened 7 days after the fire. We have moved into attorney James Fisher’s building on Court Street until we find a permanent home. Mr. Fisher was very kind and helpful with the emergency transition.
All phone numbers and email addresses remain the same.
No, but thank you for your concerns. It helped Geri and me to know during this transition that there were kind, caring people in our lives offering their support. Both of our boys came home from college to check on us. We laughed and we cried, we talked of the past and we talked of the future.
If by chance you know a firefighter, give him or her a big bear hug from me. The Redding Fire Department kept this fire from destroying the whole building. Their valiant efforts were greatly appreciated.
We are open and accepting new patients. (Yeah!)
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