Couple jumps in pond to escape Cottonwood fire; family loses everything

A couple from Hutchinson had some quick thinking to jump in their pond to evacuate from the Reno County fires Saturday.
Published: Mar. 6, 2022 at 7:44 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Cottonwood Complex fire swiftly swept through Beverly and Roger Johnson’s neighborhood. Before the couple knew it, their house was engulfed in flames.

Roger says, “the wind was going north, and then all of a sudden, it switched around and circled back and blew straight on us. It was that fast, just that fast that we were in flames... I just was panicked. I was here. I am 30 minutes away from their house here. I did not know what to do. she was just saying, I love you over and over again, and I really thought that was the last time I would ever hear her.”

Roger and Beverly say they were split up trying to grab their belongings to save and could not find each other because of the thick smoke.

“I was running down the driveway, and our trees line the whole driveway, and it was on total fire. As I was running, I got singed and singed my back and hair and burnt my eye. We have a pond down there, and I ran and jumped into the pond, and the fire went over me. I thought for sure he was burnt up, and he was dead,” said Beverly.

After a period of time waiting in the pond, the smoke cleared, and the two were reunited.

“I said, ‘Roger! You are alive! I cannot believe it. I thought it was a mirage for a minute. I thought he was burned. I had already resigned myself to the fact that he was already gone because he was in the fire,” said Beverly.

Roger and Beverly’s daughter says she cannot believe her parents made it out.

“The phone rang. It was my dads’ phone number, and I thought, ‘Oh god, please let that be my dad when I answer. I hope it is not someone who found his phone or a police officer calling me.’ so I was freaked out, but they said ‘relax, we have your parents,’ and I just got out of the truck and went down on the ground and just amazed that they were alive and just relieved,” said their daughter.

Roger and Beverly were admitted to the hospital yesterday to get their burns treated but are now out and recovering at their daughter’s house.

If you would like to donate to help Beverly and Roger rebuild, click here.

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