Fireproof: Molly and Tyler Thrasher

A young Tulsa couple’s love and creativity are tested after a devastating house fire.



Molly and Tyler Thrasher in their rebuilt home.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher were headed home from a fun evening with friends when they saw the firetrucks in their neighborhood near the University of Tulsa campus. They hoped their friends several doors down were all right.

“I checked their house as we drove by and said, ‘Whew, they’re good,’” recalls Molly of that fateful night in December 2016. “I didn’t even think it could be ours.”

But Tyler had a gut feeling.

“We turned the corner, and I just felt it,” he says. “It was weird — numbing at first. I didn’t know how to process it all.”

The Thrashers arrived home to see that an electrical fire had already devastated their 1934 house.

The young couple — he an artist, she a photographer — had just bought the home that May and married two months after that. A commissioned painting from their honeymoon had only arrived the previous week — and it, like almost everything they owned, was now gone.

Home, in ruins

The front of the Thrashers’ house was relatively intact, but the inside was destroyed from smoke damage. The back half was burned to the frame.

Very little was salvageable from the fire. If it hadn’t melted or turned to ash, it was covered in carcinogenic soot, which fire inspectors and restoration professionals warned them to avoid. A few sentimental items, like his sketchbook and her journals, were saved but had to be stored hereafter in plastic bags and not handled much ever again.

Molly Thrasher, a professional photographer, took the opportunity to photograph her burned-out home as a way to process the event. // Molly Thrasher

Gone were some paintings Tyler had been working on for weeks; a video he had just completed; half of a collection of rare succulents in the greenhouse out back. Travel photos and personal pictures were lost, as were the couple’s computer hard drives — including one wedding project Molly was finishing for a customer, and an art book Tyler had been toiling over for two years.

“(The insurance company) made us do an inventory list of everything we lost,” Molly explains. “Making that list was what made it all so real for us. It took a few months to make: an 80-something-page spreadsheet, every item, all the contents of our house.”

Tragedy through an artist's lens

Partly crediting a dark sense of humor, the couple laughed — and coped.

“No, it wasn’t good; we were just glad we were OK,” Molly says. “Had we lost a person …”

“It would’ve been infinitely worse,” Tyler chimes in.

They also might have benefited from looking at the situation as artists. For Molly, it was a chance to photograph the house she had so little time to call home.

“Shooting has always been cathartic,” she says. “I’ve done a lot of first things with a camera in front of my face. My first airplane ride was actually to shoot it. It wasn’t a commercial flight, so it was scary doing that. I had never been off the ground.”

She had never been through a house fire either, so this was a first she couldn’t pass up.

“That night, once they let us walk through the house, it was morbid, and we were shocked and sad from all the normal things you’d expect,” Molly says. “But it also was fascinating.”

“I was just documenting, mostly because it was so surreal,” she says. “I guess I didn’t want to forget. Also, the house felt so fresh before. This was our first house. So I don’t know if I would even say it was art.”

“The light was super-creepy,” she adds, describing how the soot-covered windows somberly filtered the charred space.

Tyler saw the possibility of a photo-shoot backdrop. “My everyday human side wants to feel this, but the artist in me saw inspiration,” he says. “It was a weird dichotomy. I should feel really awful, but all of a sudden there is so much art to be made from this.

“Not many people get to shoot in a burned-out building. I have a burned-out house, and I have nothing left but this house, so what can I do with this huge burnt pile of rubble? I’ll shoot with it. Use what I have.”

And “resurrect what you can” might be another part of that philosophy, as he wasted no time in getting a new version of that lost art book up and going.

“We had to get back on our feet,” Tyler says. “I’m not one to sulk; I want to keep moving. So the next day, when we were going through all the stuff we lost, I was thinking, ‘Yeah, we lost all our work, but let’s just make more work. That’s easy.’”

Molly Thrasher, a professional photographer, took the opportunity to photograph her burned-out home as a way to process the event. // Molly Thrasher

Tyler's work takes on new meaning

Tyler’s book included pieces he’d created using chemical reactions — specifically, growing crystals on skulls and dead insects. As the project related to the chemistry and science behind his art, Tyler had named his book “The Wisdom of the Furnace,” a nod to alchemists of antiquity who made chemical reactions in furnaces.

“After the fire, it dawned on me that the name took on a completely new meaning,” says Tyler, who eventually reshot what he could — and more — and has since finished the book again. In November, he launched a Kickstarter campaign for the book, which he will self-publish this spring.

Tyler says his attitude throughout the ordeal was, “I’m going to take everything out of this fire.

“If it’s going to take everything I have, I’m going to use it,” he says. “I’m going to take as much inspiration and energy and creativity as I can and make this thing fuel more projects. There will be something I’m going to pull out of this besides loss.”

‘A human safety net’

Minutes after the Thrashers arrived home after the fire, family and friends arrived to help.

Molly’s parents came, and her mom organized the couple’s siblings to find them basic necessities for the next few days. For the foreseeable future, they would move into her parents’ house.

“It was a shock for a long time,” Molly says. “But we had a human safety net of family and friends.”

Some of those friends started a GoFundMe page for the couple. Within 24 hours, the $15,000 goal was met and exceeded with about 400 people donating. Support came locally, as well as from across the country. Tyler alerted his social media network of the devastating event that meant many orders had been lost.

“The support we got so fast really helped,” she says. “We just had so many people offering us places to stay. So many people brought us clothes. People we’ve never met were sending us artwork because they found out we had lost all of ours.”

“We got more than 120 pieces of artwork in the mail,” Tyler says. “It’s weird to walk around the world, go into coffee shops and think there are hundreds of people who just showed up for us like that.”

Rebuilding and rising from the ashes

The Thrashers rebuilt on the same spot. An appraisal of the property allowed insurance to pay them the cost to rebuild. While they didn’t want anything more grand than what they’d had, the couple was able to build a safer home, with some interior upgrades, like tile to replace linoleum floors and granite in place of laminate countertops.

Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

“I’m stubborn,” Tyler says. “We were going to stay in this house, rebuild and make it safe.”

“I didn’t even think of moving,” Molly adds. “It wasn’t even presented as an option. It felt perfect for us.”

In early 2017, Sparks Construction took on the job of salvaging what they could of the original home’s exterior, sandblasting away the soot on the stonework. It was a gut job inside, though, with parts of the frame having to be redone. The entire process took almost six months. They moved back into their home in May 2017.

“We wanted the house to be modern in a safe way,” Molly says. “But we wanted to keep some of the character of the house from the ’30s.”

They not only kept some of the original built-ins in the kitchen, like old phone nooks, but asked the contractors to add more. The wood floors, mostly original to the home, were able to be sanded and re-stained. The fireplace bricks were repainted and the mantel was beautifully recreated with minimal flourishes. Arches were added to open doorways, and Tyler requested a little pass-through between the dining room and living room.

The Thrashers met when Tyler was attending Booker T. Washington High School and Molly was homeschooled. They dated through college, became engaged in May 2015 and married in July 2016, five months before they lost their first home to a fire.

Life, renewed

And along the back wall where the fire started, they hung artwork so generously donated by friends and strangers.

“It’s hard to be pessimistic,” Tyler says of the outreach they received. “It’s just downright disrespectful to retain your pessimism after 400 people whom you have never met have your back. I don’t think I can begin to tell how grateful I am. … It made us better people.”

At one point, he reaches over and protectively touches Molly’s stomach.

“It’s a boy,” she says, beaming. He’ll arrive in May — the same month they became engaged, the month they bought their first house, the month they brought that house to life again.

“We’re very excited,” Tyler says, smiling. 

Scroll down for more pictures of the Thrashers' rebuilt home.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

Molly and Tyler Thrasher lost their first home in Tulsa, Oklahoma to a devastating fire. Without hesitation, the couple decided to rebuild and today have a modern and safe dwelling.

 

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October 2019

The Brush Creek Bazaar is South Tulsa's largest and longest running Arts and Crafts Festival. This year we will host over 70+ vendors, featuring handcrafted items from all around the region. We...

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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
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Cost: Free

Where:
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More information

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Cost: $1,250

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Sponsor: Abersons
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Cost: $15

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View map »


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View map »


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Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10 / $15

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Cost: 0.00

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Cost: $8 for ages 13+, $4 for ages 3-12. Children 2 and under are free.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

More information

Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma  with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and fun...

Cost: $10 at the gate or $7 in advance for adults. Children 12 and under are FREE.

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
View map »


Sponsor: Resolute PR
Telephone: 903-292-7885
Contact Name: Zachary Johnston
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
View map »

More information

Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
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View map »


Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
Website »

More information

Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
Website »

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Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
Website »

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Join us for Nimrod Write Night, the opening event of our Nimrod Conference for Readers and Writers weekend, on Friday, October 18th, at the Tulsa Historical Society, 6:30 p.m. Write Night is...

Cost: free

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society
2445 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
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Nimrod Journal and Booksmart Tulsa will host Write Night 2019 at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, October 18th, at the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum. Write Night will feature a reception and...

Cost: $0

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society and Museum
2445 S Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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For the first time in 10 years, we will hear new music and get a new tour from three-time GRAMMY® Nominated, American Music Award and Dove Award winning recording artists Avalon. The group will...

Cost: $24.50-$75.00

Where:
Owasso First Assembly
9341 N. 129th E. Ave.
Owasso, OK  74055
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Sponsor: Compassion Live
Telephone: 877-234-3847
Contact Name: Carol
Website »

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Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
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Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

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The annual US National Arabian & Half Arabian Horse Show returns to Tulsa. You will be able to see over 1700 Arabian and Half Arabian horses competing in many divisions, including Breeding/In Hand...

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Tulsa State Fairgrounds
4145 E 21st St,
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sponsor: Arabian Horse Association
Telephone: 303-6964500
Contact Name: Kelsey Berglund
Website »

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Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers at The University of Tulsa on October 19th, 2019.   The Conference offers the...

Cost: $10-$70

Where:
TU's Allen Chapman Student Union
440 S. Gary Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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Nimrod Journal will host its annual Conference for Readers and Writers on Saturday, October 19th, at The University of Tulsa. The conference will feature workshops on fiction, poetry,...

Cost: $10-70

Where:
Allen Chapman Student Union
440 S Gary Ave
Tulsa, OK  74104
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Sponsor: Nimrod
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

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Willkommen to four days of Oompah (or Bavaria or Oktoberfest) in Oklahoma  with nationally known German bands, authentic European foods, arts and  crafters MarktHaus, full carnival, and fun...

Cost: $10 at the gate or $7 in advance for adults. Children 12 and under are FREE.

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 S. Jackson Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: Resolute PR
Telephone: 903-292-7885
Contact Name: Zachary Johnston
Website »

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Hello, Friends!   Fall is in the air! We are excited to present the 5th Annual Hugo Pumpkin Festival, a fun-filled event featuring a variety of entertaining activities for the whole family....

Cost: $ 6 - $ 20

Where:
Endangered Ark Foundation
2657 E 2070 Rd
Hugo, OK  74743
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Sponsor: Endangered Ark Foundation
Telephone: 580-317-8470
Contact Name: Emily
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The Karbach Games and Competitions Arena becomes our own center of the universe Saturday at 2:00 PM for true fans of German bier. Why? Because it is ground zero for the Linde Oktoberfest Bavarian...

Cost: $40

Where:
River West Festival Park
2100 South Jackson Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74107
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Sponsor: River Parks
Contact Name: Ryan Howell

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America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

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Go into the woods and experience the return of this fantastic family production with performances in both Tulsa and Broken Arrow. Tulsa Ballet's Hardesty Family Foundation Children's...

Cost: $15

Where:
Studio K (Tulsa) and Zarrow Studio (Broken Arrow(
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Telephone: 918-749-6006
Contact Name: Dan
Website »

More information

Abersons presents Pink Ribbon -- an exclusive, high-fashion fundraiser featuring a runway show by one of the world's hottest designers. Cocktails 6 p.m. | Dinner & Live Auction 7...

Cost: $1,250

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st St.
Tulsa, OK  74136
View map »


Sponsor: Abersons
Telephone: 918-834-7200
Contact Name: Scarlet Henley
Website »

More information

Folk Salad Radio Show celebrates its 20th anniversary with a potluck meal followed by a concert featuring Grammy-nominated singer songwriter John Fullbright and several other Tulsa musicians on...

Cost: $35

Where:
The Stone Church
4225 W. Fifth St.
Tulsa, OK
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Sponsor: Folk Salad Radio Show
Website »

More information

Join us for Nimrod Write Night, the opening event of our Nimrod Conference for Readers and Writers weekend, on Friday, October 18th, at the Tulsa Historical Society, 6:30 p.m. Write Night is...

Cost: free

Where:
Tulsa Historical Society
2445 S. Peoria Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74114
View map »


Sponsor: Nimrod Journal
Telephone: 918-631-3080
Contact Name: Cassidy McCants
Website »

More information

Originally from West Africa, Kizomba is a partner dance that is a sexy addition to any Latin dance party. It is the fastest Latin growing dance in the U.S. Come and learn the basics plus a few more...

Cost: 109

Where:
THE DANCE PLACE
3310 WEST 42ND PLACE
TULSA, OK  74107
View map »


Telephone: 918-813-6514
Website »

More information

Flashes of vivid colors, laughter, dancers whirling around keeping pace with the energetic music, more laughter……this is what you will experience at Guthrie Green this Saturday,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Guthrie Green
111 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: SAPAF
Telephone: 918-665-6419
Contact Name: Mohan Kelkar
Website »

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Tulsa in Harmony is a congregation of community choirs, lending their voices in one accord. They sing of their hopes and their faith and aspirations of a more unified community and a more unified...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gathering Place
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Website »

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Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
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Website »

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