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Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Talmage family escapes flash fire that engulfed house in minutes

  • The whisp of smoke Kevin and JJ Hall noticed drifting into their living room Sunday morning alerted them to a fire that would force them to the snow-covered yard and engulf their house in just a few minutes.“The family lost everything in this,” said Talmage Fire Chief Greg Conz.By the time Talmage ...
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  • The whisp of smoke Kevin and JJ Hall noticed drifting into their living room Sunday morning alerted them to a fire that would force them to the snow-covered yard and engulf their house in just a few minutes.
    "The family lost everything in this," said Talmage Fire Chief Greg Conz.
    By the time Talmage firefighters traveled the seven miles from town to the farm near P and 54 roads, the house was fully involved in flames.
    Conz said he was relieved when Talmage Rescue reported that the whole family was safe.
    "It made it easier that we did not have to do an interior search and rescue. That would've been hard to do, because we were not there but five or 10 minutes when the interior collapsed, bringing the front wall and porch down," he said.
    Kevin, a field product specialist with Pitney Bowes, and his 13-year-old stepson, Trevor, literally made it out of the house with the skin on their back.
    "Despite all my advice, they seem to like to spend a Sunday morning in their underwear," said JJ Hall. "They didn't even grab their shoes or a coat, although they went right by them on the way out," she said.
    Hall, with her 13-month-old son Cameron in her arms, grabbed some car keys by the door. With the keys, her husband and son had the promise of some heat in a running car.
    The family had just finished breakfast and had migrated to the living room around 10 a.m. when Kevin noticed the whisp of smoke. He went to investigate, following the smoke to one of the boy's bedroom.
    "That's when he saw there was black smoke and fire coming from beneath the bed," Hall said.
    Kevin went for a pale of water and JJ thought she might retrieve a fire extinguisher from the camper outside, but there was no time.
    "There was nothing we could do, three minutes later the house was filled with dense smoke. It just went that quick," she said.
    JJ, a hospice nurse with Tabitha, dialed 9-1-1 and tried to rescue two pets. A 10-month-old Great Pyrenese and a kitten did not escape the fire, which had pushed its way through the roof even while the family heard sirens from the fire engines in the distance.
    Their 11-year-old Miniature Pinscher named Cinderella was with them, but in a few more minutes and all their household possessions were destroyed. JJ had just recently finished wrapping gifts and placed them beneath the tree.
    The Hall's 10-year-old son Max was not at home at the time. JJ said Max typically spent a lot time in the upstairs bedroom and she wonders how they would could have rescued him had he been at home.
    Page 2 of 2 - Talmage Rescue took the two in the car, who were exposed to temperatures of 17 degrees, to St. Mary's Community Hospital for evaluation. JJ said they are doing fine.
    The American Red Cross responded with some cash so they could be some food and clothes, but the family is faced with starting over.
    JJ lost her phone in the fire, but said people have contacted her on Facebook and by e-mail with offers of help.
    "The community has been wonderful helping us out," she said.
    Donations are also being accepted at Tabitha's Nebraska City office at 1114 Grundman Blvd.
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