Lance Scofield was sound asleep Saturday night when he started to have the most vivid dream about someone breaking into his home and a SWAT team takedown of the burglar.
“I am hearing all this yelling, and I see some lights flashing, and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ Then I start to wake up and I’m like, ‘Oh my god someone has broken into my house,’ ” Scofield recalled Monday. “Then I hear, ‘Police, come out now. Everybody come out now!’ ”
To his surprise, there wasn’t a break-in or a SWAT response, but officers were inside his house.
“I am usually up at 4 o’clock in the morning so I go to bed early,” Scofield said. “I threw a pair of pants on and didn’t have a shirt or shoes and ran down the stairs basically into the arms of an officer who helped me get out of here.”
Someone walking by at 11 p.m. Saturday saw flames shooting from the back of Scofield’s E. Hansen Avenue apartment and called 911.
“I’m convinced I would be dead right now if it wasn’t for that,” Scofield said. “I sleep hard for those first few hours.”
After the initial 11:08 p.m. 911 call, Jackson Police Corporal Phil Smith and Officer Thomas Raab rushed to the scene and started to evacuate sleeping residents.
“Police! Get outside!” Smith yelled. “The building is on fire!”
Firefighters made an initial attack on flames from the back of Scofield’s apartment, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Battalion Chief Mike Moyer said.
“Our first engine went directly to the back southeast corner of the complex,” Moyer said. “There was significant fire coming out of the crawlspace in the rear of the structure.”
Firefighters used chainsaws to cut into the crawlspace and put out flames from under the structure. Flames burned through a hole in the kitchen floor, but firefighters knocked down the blaze just before it spread to other parts of the townhome.
Four engines responded, and 16 firefighters worked to put out the fire, Moyer said. Once it was out, they went under the house to check for hot spots and stayed on scene until Sunday morning when Fire Marshal Kathy Clay began investigating the cause.
“I still have a lot of questions I need answered,” Clay said.
Clay has not yet determined how the fire started. But she said smoke detectors were not sounding, and that’s a big concern.
“Our rental units are my biggest concern in this county,” Clay said. “It’s the landlord’s responsibility to make sure there are smoke detectors, but it’s the tenant’s responsibility to make sure they work.”
A fast response by law enforcement and firefighters reduced the amount of damage, Clay said.
Three other tenants were allowed to return to the fourplex, but Scofield is staying in a motel until he gets the green light to return to his smoky apartment.
“I’m still in shock,” Scofield said Monday.
Clay said the incident is a good reminder for tenants and homeowners to prepare themselves for the cold weather.
“It’s getting cold and people are turning their heaters on,” Clay said. “This is the time to make sure the smoke alarms work. Get your chimney cleaned.”
It’s also a good reminder that if you see an emergency, call 911. Scofield, who lives alone, is convinced he otherwise would not have woken up.
“Whoever called that in is a hero today,” Clay said.
At least one engine was sent from the East Hansen fire to a brush fire near Melody Ranch late Saturday night. Three other engines responded to assist with that blaze. It was a former burn pile that reignited, reports stated.