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Jan Pascoe and her husband, John, were trapped. The world was on fire, and Jan was hyperventilating from fear. Then they remembered their neighbors’ pool.

“You’ve got to calm down, Jan,” she told herself. “You can’t go underwater and hyperventilate.”

At 12:40 a.m. Monday, Jan called 911. She reached a dispatcher. “We are going to get into the neighbors’ pool, should we do this?’ The dispatcher said, “Get anywhere safe.”

“Please. We will be in the pool,” Jan replied. “This is where we are.” “In my naivete, all night long,” she would tell me later, “I thought someone would come to get us.”

As they stood at the edge of the pool, the neighbors’ house caught fire. A big tree next to the pool went up in flames. The railroad ties framing the concrete steps leading to the pool ignited.

“The heat was ‘whoa,’” John said. He stripped off his pants and jacket, and wearing only a T-shirt, turned to Jan and said, “Jump in now.” They moved to the part of the pool farthest from the house. John was worried about having to tread water, or hanging on to the side, which could be dangerous with all the burning objects flying around. Blessedly, the pool had no deep end. It was about 4 feet deep all the way across.

“I just kept going under,” she said. It was the only way to survive. “And I kept saying, ‘How long does it take for a house to burn down?’ We were freezing.”

She had tucked her phone into her shoe at the pool’s edge. When she saw it next, it had melted. At first light, the Pascoes had been in the pool for about six hours. When the worst seemed to be over, John slipped Jan’s melted shoes onto his feet as best he could and picked his way up the hill to see their house. It was gone.

pool

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