One California couple survived the recent Tubbs fire by hiding in their neighbor’s swimming pool. Jan and John Pascoe, a retired couple living in Santa Rosa California, stayed in the pool for six hours as the so-called “fire hurricane” raged around them.
Over 22 wildfires have raged through the state over the last month, but the Tubbs fire was particularly destructive. Scott Upton, the northern region chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, reports “trees ripped out of the ground, cars turned over, garage doors ripped off their hinges and wrapped around trees in the front yards.” As flames were driven by strong winds, the rising heat pulled the wind up with it and created a “fire tornado.”
At 10 pm on October 12th, the Pascoes were not aware of the fire’s reach and destructive capabilities. Faced with a clear night and no official alerts, they decided to stay put. Two hours later, their daughter Zoe called them, begging them to get out. But by then, there was “a wall of flames” at the end of their road, leaving the couple with no escape route.
In desperation, the couple called a dispatcher before jumping into their neighbor’s swimming pool. They stayed underwater as much as possible to avoid the burning debris raining down on them, and held wet t-shirts over their head to stay protected when they surfaced. Even as the fire raged around them, the water was cold, and they held each other to stay warm, waiting for a rescue that never came. “In my naivete, all night long,” Jan told the LA Times, “I thought someone would come to get us.”
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