Ball State professor shares story of survival after house fire

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MUNCIE, Ind. (June 12, 2015) – A Ball State professor is talking to CBS4 as he recovers from a house fire that nearly killed him and his wife.

Tom Price said he’s just now regaining his voice after severe smoke inhalation. The fire happened on June 1. Fire investigators say it started in the garage and quickly filled up the entire house with smoke and flames. Tom said he went downstairs to try to put out the flames.

“When I got back upstairs, it was probably 160-180 rising fast and the upstairs was full of smoke. Smoke was pouring out of the other bedroom next to ours,” Price said.

Pam called 911. The couple tried to get out, but it was too late. Tom said he knew they would be forced to seek shelter in the back bedroom. He pushed a towel under the door to keep smoke from going inside and wrapped both him and his wife in wet blankets. Then, they waited. His quick thinking is ultimately what kept them alive long enough for firefighters to

“It never occurred to me that we would not be rescued,” said Price.

His quick thinking is ultimately what kept them alive long enough for firefighters to get  to them, but they had challenges. Firefighters couldn’t get through the couple’s bedroom windows because they were too small. They tried going through a back window. When they made it inside, the floor collapsed. The fire chief pulled out his crews.The Price’s were inside their burning home for more than 40 minutes, but weren’t severely burned.

“The only burn i got is when I stepped on an ember,” Price said.

While Pam stayed on the phone with dispatchers, Tom struggled to breathe. By the time Pam called 911 a third time, Tom was unconscious.

“I was saying, get down on the floor, the air’s a lot better. and the last thing I remember is her saying I can’t and then everything went black for me,” Price said.

The dispatcher stayed on the line with Pam the entire time. Even when Pam stopped responding.

“Pam, I can still hear you, hun. Keep fighting okay? They’re trying to get to you,” the dispatcher told Pam.

“I’m glad they didn’t give up on us. I’m glad the chief didn’t give up on us,” Tom said.

Firefighters were able to break through the exterior wall of the home. Getting the couple out,  but at that point, they were barely breathing. They spent days in the hospital for smoke inhalation. Tom was unconscious for nearly 24 hours.

“I don’t remember anything. I was in and out. I was communicating, but I don’t remember any of that,” said Price.

He said the first thing he asked when he woke up is if his wife was okay.

“She’s my hero. We’ve been married almost 34 years and we’re a good match,” said Price. “There’s no way I was going to leave her there by herself. There’s just no way. If one of us goes out…we go together,” he said.

Both Tom and Pam are on the road to recovery, but have a few more doctors appointments to go. Tom said his throat is still sore and he’s coughing quite a bit, but is thankful both he and Pam are alive.

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