A Californian couple survived for six hours as a wildfire raged around them – destroying everything in a five-mile radius – by taking shelter in their neighbours’ swimming pool.
Jan and John Pascoe tried to flee their home in the hills above the city of Santa Rosa as the conflagration closed in on Sunday night only to discover they had been cut off by a wall of flames.
The retired couple had to hold each other for warmth in the cold water even as the fire melted personal effects they left on the poolside.
Meanwhile their two adult daughters endured an agonising wait after losing contact with their parents shortly after calling to urge them to evacuate.
Mr Pascoe, 70, and Mrs Pascoe, 65, described their escape as the death toll for the wildfires rose to 31, making them the most deadly to ravage the state since 1933.
In an interview with the LA Times, the pair said they first smelled smoke around 10pm, yet at the time Mrs Pascoe’s phone said the fire was still 11 miles away and they had received no official alerts.
They then took a call from their older daughter, Zoe Giraudo, saying her father-in-law’s home had burned down 40 miles from theirs and urging her parents to evacuate.
Mr Pascoe, an artist and retired wine broker, put some of his paintings and Dale Chihuly glass bowls he inherited from his mother in his Toyota Tacoma truck and the couple went to bed.
They were woken by another call from their daughter around midnight and by then the wind had picked up and they could see the flames getting closer.
“I looked out the window,” Jan said, “and all I saw was a red glow. I said, ‘John, we’ve got to get out of here.’”
The pair picked up their 17-year-old cat and drove down their…