NANCY O’LEARY: ...And, and then they drove us a little closer to the house. And then, um, and then we had to get out, and we saw the barricades, and we saw police, and at this point, it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh! This is real--there’s police.’ And, um, John stopped to talk to some of the, the people that were standing there, and I started walking, and as I went to the police barricade, the woman went to stop me, and I just stood there. And I think--in the condition that I probably was, I think, I was in shock at that point--you know, they, they said I was just trembling the whole time, and I was having difficulty walking. Um, but as I approached the barricade, she went to stop me, and I just stood there and looked at her, and I said, ‘it’s my house,’ and she just waved her arm, like, “Come on through.” And, um, and then I could see all the fire trucks, and then I could see the firemen, but I couldn’t see our house, and I waited for John to catch up, so we could walk to view it together. And as we were walking past the firemen, it was like, it was almost like they were kind of in a line, like watching us as we were--whether they were watching our reactions or what, I don’t know--but we were, I don’t know, it was just a surreal thing to be walking past them and knowing that we were the only ones allowed down there. And then, uh, we got to the end of the fire trucks, and there was another fireman standing there, and I said, ‘We’re looking for a fire marshal named Andy King.’ And, um, he said, “He’s right over here.” And he pointed us to him, and at that point, we knew that, as we kind of rounded this one large tree, we would see the house. And, when we did, I don’t, I kind of, sort of, remember what happened; he does--he said I collapsed in his arms--
JOHN O’LEARY: Mhm.
NANCY: --when I saw it. And, uh, ‘cause it was just a shell. There was--
JOHN: Just a brick facade in front--that was it.
NANCY: Yeah, there was-
NANCY: --there was one, and maybe a quarter of a wall remaining, of the, you know, two-story, four bedroom, you know, large home. And, um, it just looked like a bombed out World War II shelter-type thing. And we just, we just stood there, and I, I don’t remember the collapsing part. However, he told me I did collapse, and I cried at that moment. And then, um, and then the fire marshal approached us, and once he did, he started interviewing us right on the spot, asking us questions. But he was so--gentle, and, and, um, just compassionate, obviously, and, he told me later that, um, from, my physical stature and how I was reacting, he said he knew that I was in complete shock, and had no idea this fire was taking place, and, um, anyway-- So, apparently, from his records, he told us that, um, they received over 90-something 9-1-1 calls, and he said, so, but, from the, from putting all that together, they figured the fire started around 1:30 in the morning, and, uh, but they did not know that we were in in it, um, that were not--they weren’t no-, our mailbox wasn’t tagged as “having been evacuated.” Um, he found out who the owners were of the house by going to the mailbox, and, um, I had left some mail in there, so he found that.
JOHN: A Ford recall notice! (laughs)
NANCY: Yeah (amusement in voice)-- And, um, and so, anyway, so he, um, he said, from that, they went to try and search how to find us, and how to, and he said, “Of course...we were trying neighbor after neighbor, trying to locate everyone,” and he goes, “And nobody knew where you had gone.” And he goes, “Until we got to the one neighbor,” who is like a medical surgeon person, medical doctor, and so he, um, he was tracked down, I guess through the hospital or something, and that’s how, um, they got a hold of him, and then he actually said, you know, when they told him, “We’re looking for the O’Leary family,” he said, “They’re here with us.” And you can actually hear on the transcripts, the fire marshal’s sigh of relief, when, he heard those words. And, uh, but, he told me, that’s how they located us. Um, he was sorry they didn’t locate us till five o’clock in the morning, but as I told him, and we still believe to this day, it was a blessing for us not to have known, not to have seen it, in flames, not to have been there. And it actually hasn’t been until this day, that we finally looked at the pictures of the actual fire.
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