I Sur­vived A House Fire

Reader's Digest International - - Bonus Read - BY WAL­TER LEWIS AS TOLD TO SARA WAG­NER

The medicine that Wal­ter Lewis takes for his rheuma­toid arthri­tis causes him to wake up in the mid­dle of the night with a dry mouth. Jan­uary 15, 2016, was no dif­fer­ent. Lewis, of Fort Wayne, In­di­ana, awoke at 2:30 a.m. need­ing wa­ter. He was walk­ing back up­stairs from the kitchen when he heard his Amer­i­can bull­dog, Rock.

What­ever Rock was do­ing down there, it made enough noise for me to go to him. By the time I made it to the bot­tom of the stairs, he was run­ning up, and he

never came up the stairs, no mat­ter what. I think that was his way of telling me, “We’ve got to go back up.”

When I got to the top of the stairs, I turned around and saw a light on, but I didn’t re­mem­ber leav­ing one on. I walked down­stairs again, and that’s when I saw fire. I im­me­di­ately shouted to my wife to wake up and get our three kids.

I grabbed a knife and cut out the plas­tic that cov­ered the win­dow to the porch roof. I then pried open the win­dow and kicked out the screen. I got ev­ery­body out on the roof and threw a blan­ket out there so we wouldn’t slip off. It was cold, Jan­uary cold. Then I started scream­ing for help. But help never came.

Now, I’m scared of heights and have phys­i­cal is­sues, what with my rheuma­toid arthri­tis, but I couldn’t let my fam­ily burn up. So I jumped off the roof. I didn’t scoot to the edge; I just jumped and got the wind knocked out of me when I landed.

I found our lad­der, placed it against the house, and climbed back up to the roof. I wrapped my arms around my daugh­ter and car­ried my nine-mon­thold with my teeth, by his lit­tle sleeper. Then I climbed down the lad­der.

Once on the ground, I had my lit­tle girl hold her brother, and I went back up to the roof to get my other daugh­ter. Then I went back up again and got my wife. I tried to get my dog, but he just dis­ap­peared in the black

smoke. I never saw him alive again.

I’m no hero. I’m just an or­di­nary per­son who’d help any­body. This hap­pened to be the time when I helped my own fam­ily. I live to pro­tect my fam­ily. Just like Rock—he lived to pro­tect us. EDITOR’S NOTE: The fire caused enough dam­age that the house was con­demned by au­thor­i­ties.

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