Cascade Shores man tells harrowing story about escaping from house fire
The fire consuming Michael Milligan’s home blocked the stairs and front door.
Standing by a bedroom window, Milligan had only one way out — an 18-foot drop to the ground below.
Then the bedroom door melted, and Milligan, who fears heights, said his throat seized.
“It took me a quarter of a second to climb out that window,” he said.
Both Milligan and his wife, Tammy, escaped their burning home early Aug. 27 with no major injuries. Their house at 15831 Banner Quaker Hill Road was completely destroyed. An investigation into the blaze couldn’t determine a cause, though officials noted that the fire began near the home’s front.
The fire happened about a day after Milligan and his wife returned from a two-week vacation. They spent their first day back completing chores before falling asleep in their A-frame home that Friday night.
A few hours later, around 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 27, Milligan awoke for no reason. He’s unsure why he woke up, but decided to walk from his bedroom to the edge of the stairs. His home had an open ceiling, and he could see downstairs.
“And I can see, it struck me as odd, it seemed like it was daytime inside the house,” Milligan said.
Still groggy, Milligan at first thought he was back in a Montana cabin where he’d stayed on his recent trip.
“Then it clicked in my head — those were flames,” he added.
Milligan quickly woke his wife, who put on a pajama top. Milligan threw on some shorts. He thought they could leave by the front door, but saw the flames already had made their way to the stairs.
He shut the bedroom door, realizing they’d have to jump out the window and down about three stories to the ground below.
The Milligans kept a foam top on their mattress. Milligan tossed it to the ground, hoping it would help cushion their fall. His wife then edged through the window and Milligan wrapped bedsheets around her arms. He hoped to lower her, but she fell more than 13 feet when the bedsheets failed to hold.
Tammy landed on the foam top and stopped moving. Milligan feared he’d land on her when he jumped. He then spotted a neighbor at his fence, and yelled for him to move his wife.
Milligan thought about breaking the window and throwing the bed’s mattress to the ground, giving him more cushion.
“And then the front door melts,” he said.
The heat was overbearing. It singed his hair, and he felt the side of his face burn. The heat also caused his throat to seize, and Milligan quickly climbed through the window.
Hanging from the side of his house, Milligan let go. He spun 180 degrees in midair, landing on his feet and rolling into a ball.
Milligan’s adrenaline was rushing through his body. Unhurt, he helped his wife to her feet and they both walked to their neighbor’s property.
By then the flames had engulfed their home.
“If I had woken up 15 seconds later, we might not have made it out,” Milligan said.
The Milligans checked into a hotel several hours later and currently live with a relative.
Last week Michael Milligan walked through the remains of his home, searching for anything that wasn’t destroyed. He found a cookbook and a dish. Everything he collected fit into a small box.
“All that other stuff is gone,” he said. “We’re definitely keeping this.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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