NORTH ANDOVER — The last year has been an extremely difficult one for James and Rosemary Connelly Smedile.
On Sept. 13, 2018, when overpressurized natural gas lines caused fires and explosions throughout North Andover, Andover and Lawrence, their home at 65 Greene St. sustained very heavy damage.
Although the white, English cottage-style house appears largely unscathed from the outside, the inside was gutted by a fire that started in the basement and worked its way up through the walls to the attic.
The house sustained thousands of dollars’ worth of smoke and water damage.
The Smediles have had to live elsewhere ever since.
The situation is improving, however. The Smediles hired a contractor with whom they are pleased and renovations are well under way.
“We’re hoping to be in in the next couple of months,” said Rosemary, a veteran North Andover selectwoman and owner of Connelly Real Estate.
“We’re very pleased with our contractor,” she said. They hired Ronald Hebert, who does business as Hebert Construction Co.
Hebert, a North Andover contractor, has extensive experience in renovating buildings that have been damaged by fire, Rosemary said.
He and his crew have been able to remove the traces of the fire that burned through the walls.
He is also preserving the historic character of the house, which was built in 1946, she said.
The Smediles’ insurance company is covering the cost of restoration, she said. The company will work out an arrangement by which Columbia Gas will reimburse the insurer, Rosemary said.
The steel beams that were installed when the house was built probably prevented it from being totally destroyed, she said.
“It can be frustrating at times,” she said of the past year, when she and her husband had to find another place to live, deal with the insurance company and hire a contractor.
Last fall, she noted, most contractors were “booked out.”
“It was very difficult to find a contractor,” she said.
Finally, however, the end of the long ordeal appears to be in sight.
The Smediles, who are the parents of three adult sons, have owned the house at Greene Street and West Bradstreet Road for about 30 years.
“This community has been so good to us,” Rosemary said.