- A couple survived the raging wildfires in Northern California by sheltering in their neighbour’s pool for six hours.
- They had little warning before the flames consumed their house and neighbourhood.
- Thanks to their ingenuity, they made it out in one piece, but their home was destroyed.
A California couple survived the raging wildfires in California by jumping into their neighbour’s pool and waiting there for six hours while their house completely burned down, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Jan and John Pascoe, of Santa Rosa, California, were getting ready for bed around 10 p.m. on Sunday night when they thought they smelled smoke, the Pascoes told the Times.
“We’d experienced fire before,” said Jan Pascoe, who retired from Sonoma Country Day School in June. “But the issue always was, how far away is it?”
More than a dozen wildfires ignited on Sunday in Northern California, consuming over 190,000 acres of land and killing more than 20 people and forcing thousands more to evacuate. It’s the deadliest series of wildfires in the state’s history, and the largest fires remain almost completely uncontained.
Their eldest daughter, Zoe Giraudo, called them shortly after, warning them that they should evacuate as soon as possible. Giraudo told them her father-in-law’s home in Napa Valley, about 40 miles away, had burned down.
Around midnight, Giraudo called her parents again.
“You guys need to get out,” she told them, per the LA Times. The Pascoes still had no idea how widespread the fires were. They had no warning.
“I looked out the window,” Jan said, “and all I saw was a red glow. I said, “John, we’ve got to get out of here.'” By that time, it was too late.
The Pascoes jumped into their car, grabbed their cat, and attempted to make their escape. But the road was a “wall of flames,” the Pascoes told the LA Times. They parked their car — the cat jumped out and hasn’t been seen since — and by that point, they were in “survival mode.”
The Pascoes had a thought: They could survive if they waited out the fire in their neighbour’s pool. Their whole neighbourhood, trees, houses, cars, and everything, had become “engulfed in flames,” the told The LA Times. The couple called 911 around 12:40 a.m. on Monday and asked the dispatcher whether going into the pool was a good idea.
“Get anywhere safe,” the dispatcher responded.
“Please. We will be in the pool,” Jan replied. “This is where we are.” As they deliberated whether to get into the pool — it was 55 degrees outside — their neighbour’s house caught on fire.
They removed most of their clothing, and submerged themselves in the freezing water, which at that point, was filled with debris.
They held onto each other to stay warm and kept submerging themselves underwater to take shelter from the heat and the ash-filled air.
Their daughters in San Francisco frantically called their phones but received no answer. At 7 a.m., Giraudo asked her husband, “Do you think they are gone? Do you think I need to prepare myself for this?” per the LA Times.
Less than two hours later, she got word her parents had survived their ordeal. They had spent over six hours in a freezing pool, while houses and trees burned around them.
“We held hands,” John Pascoe told the LA Times, “and walked out.”
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