The LA Times interviewed the couple that spent six hours in a pool waiting out the fire.
As thousands of people fled their homes in Napa Valley, California over the last few days to escape the raging and deadly wildfires, Jan and John Pascoe found themselves trapped in their neighborhood with no way out. Their only way to safety, the couple told the Los Angeles Times, was to seek shelter in their neighbor’s pool.
According to Jan, the couple first heard of the impending fire from their daughter, Zoe Giraudo, who frantically called her parents from San Francisco to beg them to evacuate. At first, her parents remained unfazed as the fire appeared to be miles away and they had yet to receive any official alerts. Hours later Giraudo called again, telling her parents they had to get out immediately. Only by then it was too late.
As the Pascoes attempted to flee the area they were met with a wall of flames, according to the Times. They were forced to turn back to their home and wait.
According to Jan, she made a call to 911 before the pair left their home in the hopes of letting potential rescuers know where they were. The Pascoes then stood on the edge of their neighbor’s pool as flames closed in. Finally, as the trees and the rope lining the pool lit up the pair stripped off their clothes and jumped in. There they waited, and waited for help to come.
“I just kept going under,” Jan told the Times, saying it was the only way to survive the heat, embers, and smoke. “And I kept saying, ‘How long does it take for a house to burn down?’ We were freezing.”
After six excruciating hours, John got out of the pool, slipped on a pair of partially melted shoes, and made his way to their home. There, he found everything was gone. What mattered, though, was that they were alive and relatively unscathed.
“We held hands,” John told the Times, “and walked out.”
What’s next for the couple and the thousands of other survivors of the fire is rebuilding, though that will take a long time. If you'd like to help, here are a few ways to donate.