Couple spends 6 hours in neighbors’ pool to escape California wildfire

SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- "I looked out my window and there was a wall of flames, so that's how fast it happened."

Jan Pascoe, a California resident whose house was quickly consumed by flames, said she and her husband, John, were forced into an unthinkable tale of survival.

"We had no warning, zero warning," she said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "I have alerts on my phone. Nothing."

As flames from the Tubbs fire closed in, the two found refuge in the only place immune to the blaze - thier neighbors' murky, debris-filled swimming pool.

Jan placed a call to 911 asking if they should jump into the water. "Get anywhere safe," was the response.

Jan, 65, and John, 70, held off on submerging themselves in the chilly water until the world around them literally went up in flames.

The house they were standing by and a nearby tree began to burn before the couple took to the water.  “The heat was ‘whoa,’” John said.

Nearly naked, the two bobbed up and down in the water, covering their faces with wet t-shirts to avoid sparks from the fires.

The pool bottomed out at four feet so the couple didn't have to tread water but they did have to maintain hope and patience.

“I just kept going under,” Jan said. "It was the only way to survive."

In all, the two spent roughly six hours switching between holding their heads under water and then briefly coming up for air.

"I kept saying. ‘How long does it take for a house to burn down?’ We were freezing," Jan said as she described watching and waiting for the inferno to pass.

Amazingly, the two survived not only the fire but a night in 55 degree water continually filling with ash and debris.

The gravity of the situation and the quick thinking that saved their lives is not lost on the Pascoes.

"There are those who didn't get out and our heart goes out to those families."

Still, the two lamented the loss of the family cat, two pieces of Chihuly artwork and the memories that were created inside their ravaged home.

Despite feeling as though they had looked into hell itself, John and Jan Pascoe say the experience put their priorities in order and they will now embrace what they were able to save in the face of such an enormous loss.

"I'll be fine, we'll be fine," John said thoughtfully. "We have each other."