Jacob Espericueta doesn’t think of himself as a hero. However, his girlfriend, Summer Waters, does.
On Dec. 10, he rescued 4-year-old Trenity and 9-month-old Logan from a fire that destroyed the family’s home at 13432 Hobart Road.
“People say I am hero because I did this or that,” Espericueta said. “It doesn’t seem like I am hero. It all just came naturally. I just did what I was supposed to do and got my kids out of the house.”
In a press release, Ed Grambusch, captain and public information officer for the Silverton Fire District, wrote that the incident commander found Espericueta outside the house.
“He had what appeared to be severe lacerations to his hands,” the press release read. “The lacerations to his hands were apparently caused by him punching out a window to rescue his 4-year-old daughter.” During an interview on Dec. 18 at the Silverton Inn and Suites where the American Red Cross placed the family for a week, Espericueta said the day of the fire had been a normal day. The family got a Christmas tree that Trenity helped decorate. Espericueta drove Waters to work at Your Break Tavern.
“I came home and took care of the kids. Trenity and I laid out her clothes for the next day of preschool,” he said. “I went to bed around 9 to 9:30. … Summer called and then I made Logan a bottle.”
For some reason, he said, he awoke and went to turn on his bedroom light.
“It wouldn’t turn on and then it hit me the room was filled with smoke,” he said.
As he rushed to his son’s room, he said the smoke was thick. “I couldn’t even see Logan in his crib,” Espericueta said. “I had to grab around to find him.”
He first rushed out of the house and screamed for his dad who lives nearby. Heading back inside the house, he saw black smoke billowing out.
“I think I must have panicked because I went to Trenity’s window and punched it out,” he said. “Luckily, she was standing right there and I could grab her and get her out.”
Espericueta recalls sitting outside his home and hearing windows pop out and watching flames engulf the structure. Both the house and contents are a total loss, according to the fire department; however, the residence had full insurance coverage.
After an extensive investigation by the Silverton Fire District and a member of the Marion County Fire Investigation Team, the fire cause will be listed as undetermined.
Both children were evaluated at the scene by Woodburn Ambulance personnel and were not transported to a medical facility.
Espericueta was transported to Emmanuel Hospital in Portland by ambulance. He had nine stitches on his right arm and second-degree burns on his left hand.
Waters said she received a phone call at work from a friend telling her that her home was on fire.
“I first tried to call Jacob but he didn’t answer and I began thinking the worst but hoping for the best,” she said. “Luckily, Jacob’s dad called and said Jacob and the kids were fine.” The couple bought the home about eight months ago from Jacob’s father, who had owned it 10 years. They had recently finished remodeling it.
They estimated it will be eight to nine months before the house is rebuilt. In the meantime, they plan to find a rental home in Silverton.
As they begin the New Year, they are thankful for one another.
“It’s horrible what happened but what’s important is I still have my family,” Espericueta said. “All the things can be replaced.”
What amazes the couple is the outpouring of support they have received from friends, family members and even strangers.
“We can’t even be depressed about what happened because there is so much good that is happening,” he said. “There is no way we can thank everyone enough for what they have done for us.”
“We truly feel like angels were watching over us that night,” Waters added.
One thing Espericueta plans to do and encourages others to do the same is to have an emergency plan – just in case.
“You don’t think something like this will happen but if it does, you want to be prepared, he said.