The devastating wildfire in northern California has killed 31 people with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of missing people and sprawling areas of vineyards, forests, and homes scattered to the ashes.
In that brutal setting, Jan and John Pascoe was very close to losing his life when his neighborhood was engulfed by fire and this was surrounded by walls of flames, unable to evacuate as their daughter had previously begged.
They managed to save their lives in the heat because they stayed for about six hours immersed in a pool filled with cold water.
It was dawn on Monday, October 9, in a neighborhood in the much-affected city of Santa Rosa, California’s Sonoma region, north of San Francisco Bay.
Jan and John Pascoe, 65 and 70 respectively, were besieged by fire and, as Robin Abcarian in the Los Angeles Times reports, were at imminent risk of dying. They called line 911 and there they were told to leave the place, to get to a safe place immediately.
But the fire surrounded them while their neighborhood burned. Jan told 911 operators that they were standing by a pool at one of their neighbors’ homes, perhaps hoping someone would come and get them, according to the LA Times.
But they were alone and unable to receive help.
It had all happened very quickly because only two hours earlier the couple were doing their daily work on a Sunday night, on a clear night with a moon, without having reported that their neighborhood was in danger. It was known of the severity of the fires in the region, but they apparently did not think, and at first, no one informed them, that the flames were on the way to devour their house.
Then one of his daughters called them and told them that the fire was near, that they had to evacuate. The retired couple chose to prepare for it, but they did not leave their house immediately. By midnight her daughter called again, according to the newspaper, and urged them to escape. A red glow was already visible from her window, and they both got into a van and drove a little way in. But the fire speeded by the wind had already blocked the way. Then they returned to their house and by then the fire had surrounded them.
“It was a wall of flames,” Jan told Abcarian of the LA Times.
Thus, in the face of the advance of the fire, the couple opted for what appeared to be their only option of salvation: jump into the pool of the adjoining house so that the water, which was cold and full of debris, protected them from the terrible heat.
They both jumped into the water.
Outside, the house from which the pool was part and nearby trees blazed and the air was laden with smoke and incandescent residue.
Inside, Jan and John Pascoe hugged each other for warmth-in spite of the outside hell, the pool water was icy-and they were comforted by words of love in the midst of the disaster, according to the LA Times chronicle.
There, in the water, which fortunately was not deep and allowed them to stand on their feet to submerge themselves for a moment and then leave briefly for air, the marriage remained for a long time, waiting for everything around them to be consumed by the fire. that the fire would pass from there and they could emerge from the water, where, paradoxically, the cold stifled them.
And even though they were just a step away from a blazing place, “we were freezing,” Jan told the LA Times.
They spent hours in the pool, about six, while everything around them was turned into ashes and smoking coals. When dawn began and the fire there had subsided, Jan and John finally came out of the water and watched the devastation. His house was devastated and lost all his possessions, including the paintings John, artist and retiree of the wine industry, treasured at home. All they had left were the few clothes, soaked and broken, with which they threw themselves into the pool and both were barefoot. All around it was a sort of smoky desert.
But they were alive and well. Several hours later they were able to reunite with their daughters.