Strange sounds woke 31-year-old mother of six, Emma Schols, from her sleep in the middle of the night in September 2019. This night, Emma slept alone in bed as her husband had traveled out of town on business.
Emma hopped out of the bed to investigate the noise and discovered a fire burning in the downstairs portion of the house.
Two of her kids slept downstairs; the other four were sleeping upstairs. Emma immediately ran downstairs to rescue the two kids closest to the fire.
She found the kids hiding in the playroom and immediately rushed to save them. As she opened the door, air caught the fire, causing a massive explosion. Emma leaped into the room and on top of her children, the fire’s flames catching her back on fire.
She grabbed the boys and ran to the front of the house, forcing both outside. She locked the door so neither boy re-entered the house, then yelled for the terrified boys to run to the balcony.
The Staircase is on Fire; Emma Vows to Save Kids
As Emma turned around to run back upstairs to grab the four remaining children she witnessed the staircase catch on fire, each stair slowly burning away, leaving no way up.
The sight of fire did not phase Emma. Four of her babies slept upstairs after all. As the soles of her feet caught fire and melted away, Emma bravely ran quickly back up the burning stairs. She felt no pain, at least at that moment, as her mind focused solely on her children and getting them to safety.
Nellie, 9, jumped from an upstairs window and ran to a neighbor’s house to get help before Emma made it back up. William, 11, had attempted to lower a ladder from the window to get his remaining siblings out of the house.
Emma grabbed the kids and ran to the balcony with them. Horrified at the sight of their mother, who now profusely bled, burnt down to the bone with missing skin next to melted, burn skin. All of her hair was missing and her face was burnt beyond recognition.
Emma Runs Back into the House
Emma was in intense pain when she realized baby Mollie was not on the balcony. At one year old, Mollie was helpless and still stuck inside the burning home. She wasted no time rushing back inside the house as the kids grabbed at her body trying to stop her from going back inside.
Emma was going to get her kids out of the house or die trying.
“I thought that if she’s still in there then she’s probably not alive anymore but I have to try to get her out.”
Thinking she likely would die, Emma pulled herself onto the floor back inside the burning bedroom. She was too badly burnt to walk by this time.
“It was such thick smoke and so hard to breathe. I was so terribly tired but could see through the smoke how Mollie stood there in her crib and cried and was terrified. Then I suddenly got such an enormous force and managed to get to my feet and lift her up.”
“I only had my own body, no blanket, no protection, only myself and my mother’s heart,” says Emma.
“When I went down the steps with Mollie, it was as if my feet stuck to each step. I was just bleeding.”
At the last step, Emma collapsed.
She thought falling to the ground was death calling her. She thought those moments were the last of her life and lay still waiting on the blackness.
It never came.
Emma, Children Survive
But, she did not die. Help arrived moments later. Emma’s oldest son, William, stayed by his mother’s side until paramedics forced him away. Emma told William she would be home soon as she was whisked off into an ambulance and rushed to the hospital
Emma Made a Full Recovery
Emma spent three weeks in the burn unit on a respirator, at times becoming so sickly, doctors expected her to die. She suffered burns to 93% of her body. She first asked doctors when she regained consciousness after those weeks, “Are the children alive?”
All six children escaped from the home without any injuries.
About six weeks later, hospital staff allowed the kids a visit with their mother. Emma was both excited and hurt by the visit. Mollie did not recognize her and would not allow her to hold her or touch him. This broke Emma’s heart.
Luckily, Emma kept the promise she made to William. She made a full recovery. And made it back home. Mollie eventually warmed back up to Emma, who now has a new appreciation for life.
“TODAY I TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED AND AM GRATEFUL FOR EVERY DAY WE HAVE TOGETHER.” — Emma Schols