Vickie Bland

Vickie Bland, Accounts Payable

A friend woke Vickie Bland up on the morning of Nov. 17 at 5:30. "I didn't understand why she would be calling me to tell me about her office," says Bland. "When I finally understood that the call was to notify me that my office was on fire, I grew upset. I immediately started thinking what may have started the blaze. I came to the extremely upsetting conclusion that it [may have] started in my office with a Christmas tree light set that I had left plugged in when I left Friday evening," she says. Bland was crying hysterically by the time she realized that she had actually remembered to turn off the lights before leaving work.

All guilt aside, Bland went into work that afternoon to retrieve some of her personal belongings. "I was so scared of stepping on a nail and running it through my shoe that I got in and out fast," she says. She saved a photo frame that had 16 pictures of her son from age 10-months to 15. The Christmas tree, Bland's original cause for worry, was ruined in the fire, along with the ornaments. "I [had] also painted a Christmas scene on my windowpane with window paint ˇwhich nobody got to see - except maybe a firefighter or two from the outside of the building." Although Bland did not lose anything big in the fire, she says, "little things can sometimes add up to a big heartache when they are lost."

All 12 accounts payable staff members were moved to the Frye Training Lab. In preparation for the move, Bland and co-worker Sharon Rodgers went to Wal-Mart and purchased the very bare essentials. Bland praises all the Frye Lab workers for going the extra mile to help them with the transition. "They were true, caring co-workers who gave us support and many hugs of concern." Back at work, many people didn't know where to begin. "I did manage to get some very soggy, sooty, smelly invoices from my office, which I took to my garage to dry by a fan on Monday night," she says. Although it took weeks to find some misplaced items, the team was paying bills again less than one week after the fire.

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