Supervisor, wife escape house fire
Bob Pyle was taken to Banner Lassen Medical Center for smoke inhalation, but was released the same night and no one else suffered any injuries.
“I was fast asleep, when I heard the alarm, and it didn’t even register to me what I was hearing,” Pyle said. “If it hadn’t been for that alarm going off, I don’t know if I would have ever woken up.”
The Pyles awoke to the smoke alarm late in the evening. The entire top floor of their more than 100-year-old home was filled with smoke. Pyle said they quickly realized that the smoke was coming from the first floor of the house. They tried to take a couple steps down the stairway of their home, only to be pushed back by the extreme heat generated from the fire.
Vicki Pyle later explained that the heat generated by just that small area of their kitchen was strong enough to melt candles, silk plants, blinds and even the smoke alarm that woke them up.
Cut off from the downstairs and with more smoke billowing into the top floor, the Pyles came to the conclusion that their only way out was through the top floor window.
As soon as they were outside of the top floor window standing on the roof, Vicki called the fire department. It was just after 10 p.m., and the Pyles started calling out for help from anyone nearby.
Next-door neighbor Tammy McConnell heard the Pyles shouting from the small sliver of slanted roof in front of the bedroom window — also noting the urgency in Vicki’s voice. McConnell navigated the Pyles’ large, pitch-black garage next door to the their home, her eventual goal the ladder on the far wall.
“The only way I can describe it is that I had a guardian angel watching out for me,” McConnell said of her ability to hoist a ladder twice her size off the garage wall.
Pyle said McConnell was able to lift the ladder above her head and run it over to him and his wife, and with a little coaching from him, she was able to extend the ladder and get them down to the ground. Bob said he could immediately see the flames coming from the dishwasher in the kitchen. He then grabbed a bucket, filled it with water and started dumping it on the dishwasher.
“I came into the kitchen and started throwing buckets of water on the fire,” Pyle said. “That’s when I got into the smoke. That was able to help a little before the fire department showed up.”
Firefighters from Susanville, Susan River and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection showed up minutes after Pyle started tackling the dishwasher, at around 10:30 p.m. Firefighters from Janesville were also dispatched, but were stopped before getting there. Members of the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office were the first to arrive at the scene.
Susan River Fire Chief Glenn Hodgson said while the house did sustain significant smoke damage, the structural damage was very minimal. Pyle, who said he has lived in the house for more than 34 years, said they had recently redone the exterior of the house. If there is a silver lining surrounding the fire, its that they are now going to be able to redo much of the interior. Pyle said his insurance should be more than sufficient to cover the cost of the damages.
After the fire was extinguished, Pyle said emergency services offered to put the couple into a hotel for the night.
“I told them that was OK,” Pyle said. We just opened up all the windows in the house, wrapped extra warm, and we were out bailing hay at 4 a.m.”
Pyle said if there was anything that people could take out of this experience, it was to always check your smoke alarms.
“It’s funny how a little battery can be so important,” Pyle said.
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