72: Untouched

72: Untouched

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles


Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.

~Saint Augustine

My twins were safely asleep in their beds. My mom and I were watching a movie on TV when we smelled smoke. About the same time we smelled it, the furnace kicked on and our house was quickly engulfed in black smoke. We both rushed upstairs to get the twins! The smoke was getting thicker and I began to choke. My mother grabbed Tami from her crib and headed downstairs. I picked Tom up, covered his mouth with a baby blanket, and stepped out into the hallway.

The hallway was thick with black smoke, and I had a difficult time seeing anything through it. I placed my hand on the wall and headed in the direction of the stairs. At the end of the hall I found the handrail. Cradling Tom in one arm I grabbed the handrail with my other hand and used that to guide myself down the stairs.

I was having difficulty breathing and felt like I was about to collapse. I knew that if I fell down I wouldn’t get out of the house, and my only thought was to escape. I prayed to God that he would safely lead me out of the flames.

At the bottom of the stairs I saw the glow of the fire and heard the sound of the flames and crackling of wood burning. I could barely see through the thick smoke, but I knew where the front door was. I walked across the living room toward the front door as quickly and safely as possible. My fear was tripping and not being able to get back up.

Tom was crying and choking in my arms. I knew that once I got to the front door we would be safe. My only thought was “Get to the front door and get out of the house!” As I got closer I could feel the cool breeze coming through the open door. I knew that my mother must have gone out that same way, and I thanked God that she was able to get out of the house with Tami.

As I exited the front door I felt the rush of cold air hit my face. It was the middle of December in Cincinnati. It was freezing but I simply thanked God that I could breathe again and that he had allowed us to escape the fire.

Someone must have called the fire department as the trucks were already pulling up. I thanked God the firefighters had arrived so quickly My biggest concern was the dining room, where we had important legal papers that we needed for a court case the following week.

I rushed to my neighbor’s house and called someone at our church prayer chain to pray that the dining room would be spared from the fire.

In the aftermath of the fire it became evident how severe it had been. I was told by some of the firefighters that the fire was so intense that one of their trucks had sustained damage from the heat because it had been parked too close to the house. Another firefighter told me that it was truly a miracle that we escaped. He said that when the firefighters tried to enter the house through the front door, they couldn’t. The living room floor had collapsed into the basement beneath the house, and he believed that my mother and I had walked across a carpet that had no floor beneath it.

The amazing thing was that the dining room remained untouched by the fire. In fact, the wax candle that was sitting on the dining room table hadn’t even melted! How could it be that this fire was so hot that it damaged a fire truck parked outside the house, but didn’t melt the candle that was sitting on the dining room table? The rooms on either side of the dining room were completely destroyed, but the dining room itself was untouched.

The day after the fire we found the legal papers that we had been praying for. They were completely undamaged, not even touched by smoke or water. It was as if God had placed his hand over that room and said, “This room will not burn.”

I talked to the firefighters after the fire had been extinguished and they said they had never seen anything like it. It was one of the most intense and intriguing fires they had ever encountered. They had no explanation for why the dining room was untouched when the entire house should have been destroyed.

~Pam Ziebold

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