Air Force couple saves family from Ohio house fire

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline
  • Air Force Life Cycle Management Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The sounds of laughter and merriment flow out the door as Jeremy and Alexia Archuleta exchange goodbyes with their friends. It was about 4 a.m. when the couple was heading home from a friend’s house in Maineville, Ohio, on June 22. It was dark and the streets were quiet in the early morning hours.

It was in that silence that Alexia heard a sound that would forever change the life of one family.

“I heard something on my left side, so I looked over and about six houses down we see this house’s garage has gone up in flames,” said Senior Airman Alexia Archuleta, assigned to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, but is currently serving on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard. “We immediately went back to our friend’s house and told them to call 911. We both took off sprinting to the door to wake these people up and get them out of the house.”

With flames reaching at least 20 feet tall, they had completely taken over the garage and had reached the upper level of the home. The fire had also spread to the neighbor’s home.

“Jeremy was pounding on the door and I’m standing behind him looking at the fire because at this point it is very hot and it was approaching us,” Alexia said. “Kylie, (older daughter), answered the door and we told her that the garage is on fire. She immediately ran inside to get the family and Jeremy followed her.”

The mother of six and homeowner, Michelle Fox, and her two young twin daughters were sleeping in a room upstairs above the garage and her daughter and a friend were down in the basement for a sleepover. 

“I ran downstairs to grab her younger sister and one of her friends who was staying the night for a sleepover,” said Master Sgt. Jeremy Archuleta, assigned to Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Special Operations Forces and Personnel Recovery Division as a Tactical Air Control Party program manager subject matter expert. “The young girls were already awake because of all the commotion so we were able to gather them and take them outside to safety.”

Michelle and her twin daughters were escorted, along with the family dog, across the street to safety.

The fire spread to at least three propane tanks inside the burning garage and started exploding as the family was escaping the home. Alexia stood with her back to the fire to keep any debris from hitting the children as they were fleeing the home.

“After everyone was out of the house, I ran over to the neighbor’s house to try and wake them up,” Alexia said. “I couldn’t knock on the door hard enough [due to a previously injured wrist] so Jeremy was able to able to wake them up and get them out of the house.”

It wasn’t until the fire trucks arrived at about 4:30 a.m. that the fire alarms inside the house started going off. It would have been too late to save the family as the blaze had already consumed the rooms above the garage.

When asked how it felt knowing that they made a difference in saving the lives of this family, Jeremy described it as a surreal experience.

“I’d like to think that anybody else would do the same,” Jeremy said. “I’m just glad it all subconsciously kicked in and we were able to help out someone in serious need. My training kicked in. I used tactics like delegate, direct and action. I delegated someone to call 911, directed action to have people come over and help, and then acted by moving people away from the fire.”

Jeremy wanted to thank the neighbors in the community for their help in the situation as well.

“I’ve personally never seen anything like this,” he said. “All the neighbors were super helpful. They brought out water for everyone and did their best to help comfort the family and reassure them.”

The cause of the fire was attributed to lithium batteries for electric bikes that had been left on the charger overnight.  

“We charge things like this all the time, so I never gave it a second thought,” said Fox. “We have so many kids and they always have friends over so we charge things all the time, but now I don’t even want to charge my phone."

Michelle attributes Kylie, Jeremy and Alexia’s swift actions for why the whole family was able to escape unscathed.

“I was sleeping in my room, which is upstairs and behind the garage, with the twins when Kylie came in saying ‘Mommy there is a fire’,” Michelle explained. “We got up and ran. I was still in a haze of waking up and this traumatic experience happening. I just keep thinking that if it weren’t for them, I don’t know how we would have been alerted.”

For Michelle and her family, material objects don’t matter.

“I don’t care about the things,” Michelle said. “I’m just glad that my family and friends are safe. Everyone is doing good, and my little ones are resilient. I’m just grateful to be alive with my kids and family."