Arlington

Arlington family rescued from house fire reunited with heroes who saved them

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Two weeks after a mother and her two children were rescued from the second floor of their burning home, an Arlington family got the chance to meet and thank the men and women who saved their lives.

That reunion happened at Arlington Fire’s station 9 last week, bringing together the men and women of multiple stations, medic teams and elected officials.

“I’d like to welcome everybody here tonight because we're here to celebrate an extraordinary event. We're here to celebrate acts of bravery and courage,” said Deputy Chief Jon Padilla.

Padilla explained to the crowd that there were two narratives.

 "On one hand, you have the firefighters who are trained to go inside these types of environments and save a life,” he said.

On the other, there’s Michelle Chap, a mom who, against all odds, kept her babies safe.

“That’s very, very comforting to know that I did the best I could, and it really was the best I could have done,” said Chap.

“On the night of August 14th around 11 p.m., Michelle's husband, Roatha, came running up the stairs to tell her there was a fire in the garage.

“I jumped out of bed and started running to my kids' rooms. He went back downstairs and apparently went outside to see if he could put it out and he couldn't get back in,” she said.

Within seconds, both the stairs and the family's planned escape route through Chap’s son’s bedroom window were blocked.

“Smoke just kept coming, and so I got us into my closet because my closet doesn't have a vent,” said Chap. “I had 911 on the line the whole time and I told them exactly where we were, up the stairs to the right, bathroom's on the left, in the closet in the back of the bathroom."

While Roatha fought desperately to break down a door to get back inside to rescue his family, 10-year-old Kiri remained brave, relying on fire safety learned in kindergarten.

“She just kept telling my son to stay calm, you know, stay low, take short breaths. ‘Here logan, hold this over your mouth’," said Chap.

After dispatchers told Chap that firefighters were on the scene, she instructed the kids to bang on the walls to help lead first responders to them.

“The last thing I saw was my daughter reaching over to start hitting the wall,” she said.

Chap blacked out before help arrived, waking later to find she and her children had been hospitalized but were all alive.

“Our guardian angels were there with us. And I just knew… never questioned us being ok, never, ever thought this was the end,” said Chap.

Now out of the hospital and temporarily settled with family, the Chaps got the chance to thank the long line of first responders who were at their home that fateful night.

They’re heroes for whom they’re eternally grateful.

"If they hadn't been there, gotten there so fast, it could've all turned out so differently,” said Chap.

Padilla made sure to say that the family’s rescuers have just much admiration for them.

“Tonight is special because we get to see them, we get to see them as they should be which is the most precious thing that we have,” he said.

Chap, a longtime teacher in Mansfield ISD said she hopes to return to the classroom soon, nearly a month after doctors warned the family that her injuries were catastrophic.

She encourages every family to come up with a fire escape plan and practice.

The Chaps' friends and school community are raising money to help them pay for medical bills and temporary housing while they rebuild their homes.

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