Couple who jumped into pond to escape Cottonwood fire revisits property, plans to rebuild

Beverly and Roger Johnson said they thought they lost one another when fire consumed their land. The solace a pond - hundreds of feet away.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 5:33 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As flames grew higher around her during Saturday’s Cottonwood Complex fire in Reno County, Beverly Johnson got out of her Ford Explorer, ran down her driveway about 200 feet and jumped into her pond. There, she was eventually reunited with her husband.

The fire destroyed their home and most of their possessions, but there came a moment to celebrate at the pond where Beverly and her husband, Roger confirmed the other was alive.

Thursday, Eyewitness News caught up with the couple as they revisited the remnants of their home. Beverly and Roger said just being back, smelling the smoke and looking at all the damage brings them back to Saturday, March 5.

“The fire came up over that hill and it was as tall as the trees. It came over the top of my Explorer and I was talking to my daughter, and I said, ‘I’m gonna burn up. Goodbye, I love you,’” Beverly said.

When the fire hit, Beverly and Roger lost contact with each other due to the thick smoke in the air. They both made a dash down their driveway and into their pond.

“This was just like walls of fire,” Beverly said.

The two were reunited after about an hour.

“I thought everything was over, I really did,” Roger said. “With her being gone and all. And when I saw her, I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe it.”

The Johnsons say they plan to rebuild at the place they’ve called home for decades.

“Yeah, we’re just doing one day at a time and try to get our ducks in a row. Sift through the ashes and see what we can find. Forty-six years of stuff and, gone.”

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