A married couple in Northern California survived the wildfires that destroyed their home and neighborhood by spending six hours in a swimming pool.
Jan Pascoe, 65, and her husband John, 70, recall smelling smoke the night before the Oct. 9 fire, and although they stashed a few of their valuables in their vehicles, they weren't too worried just yet, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The next day, their daughter nervously called to warn them houses nearby were burning down and they should evacuate before their community was affected.
Concerned, the couple looked out the window and realized it was too late -- they were already surrounded by flames.
"I looked out the window," Jan recalls. "And all I saw was a red glow. I said, 'John, we've got to get out of here.'"
Grabbing their 17-year-old cat, they tried to escape in their cars but were forced to turn back when they realized the road was blocked.
"We were in survival mode," Jan said. "What are we going to do? What are we going to do?"
In a split-second decision, they jumped into their neighbor's debris-filled and blackened pool to save their lives. The cat ran away during the chaos and has not been seen since.
For six hours, the two held each other in the cold pool while they waited for help.
"In my naivete, all night long I thought someone would come to get us," Jan said.
"I just kept going under," she added. "And I kept saying, "How long does it take for a house to burn down? We were freezing."
While the couple lost their home and possessions to the fire, they both made it out alive.
"We held hands," John said. "And walked out."
Firefighters are still working to contain the California wildfires, which have claimed more lives so far than any other single wildfire event in the state's recorded history, reports the Daily Mail.
In the city of Santa Rosa, fires have scorched more than 300 square miles, which is nearly the area of New York City.
Despite some progress, authorities say they are not anywhere close to being in the clear.
"We are not even close to being out of this emergency," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of California Office of Emergency Services.
So far, the Northern California fires have killed at least 31 people.
"Some of them are merely ashes and bones," Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano said, reports CNN. "And we may never get truly confirmative identification on ashes. When you're cremated, you can't get an ID."