ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) — It was late October when a fire annihilated a Rushford home, almost taking the lives of a family of six inside.
“I remember the wife yelling that there was a fire,” said the father so many are calling a hero, Jared Cords. “And I leaped out of bed.”
An instant – that’s all it took, to completely change life as the Cords family knew it.
“When I got to the top of the stairs, the North side of my house was on fire,” Jared continued. “I remember grabbing Peyton in my right arm and Ravyn in the other.”
“I didn’t know Teagan was out. I thought she was still in there,” Jared said. “So, I ran back in and I couldn’t take the heat or smoke anymore and I’m hollering and screaming. I end up running out and wondering where in the world she is and I’m freaking out. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t get in there. I turn around and look and see that she is with my wife. Then you turn around and just see your house ‘poof,’ gone in 10 minutes.”
Recounting that October night is hard.
“Thinking back, I wish I could have done different things. Thinking back is different than being in the moment. Thinking back I wish I would have thrown them all in one room and gotten out the window,” Jared said. “Then, none of my kids would have been burned. But people tell me not to think that way, they say, ‘you ain’t got time to think, you just do.’ So, basically that’s what happened. What the firefighters did that night, they couldn’t do nothing to save the house, which is fine, but they couldn’t have done a better job caring for my family.”
While many are also calling what Jared did heroic, he says it’s what any dad would have done.
“I would hope any other dad would do the same thing. I would not consider myself a hero for that,” Jared said. “It’s just something a dad should do for their family, for their kids.”
Twenty-five days – nearly a month – the Cords family has been stationed in St. Paul, at the Regions Hospital Burn Center.
“It’s hard to keep track of days, time,” Jared said. “Everything is just go, go, go.”
While the family has made tremendous strides since that day, the recovery is far from over – especially for young Peyton.
According to the Cords Family Fund on Facebook, Peyton had a nine hour surgery on her face, neck and hands on Friday. The update reports surgeons took part of Peyton’s scalp and put it on her face from a skin graft standpoint.
“Lots more grafts,” Jared said. “She got fitted for a mask over her face that she is going to wear for two years, maybe longer.”
He’s optimistic she’ll be out of the hospital before Christmas.
“It’s just a long battle I guess you could say,” Jared continued. “It’s going to be a lot of trips up here. I can’t even put into words how many trips up here.”
Trips to a place Jared says has been wonderful.
“They do a great job here,” Jared said. “Treat you like family, basically. They’ve been just unbelievable to my family.”
As for ‘what’s next?’ That isn’t a question that’s ready to be answered.
“People have asked me what I’ve wanted to do,” Jared said. “If I want to build a house or buy a house, right now I’m not even worried about that. I just want my family back together. I’m not even worried about it right now. It’s just the family that matters to me.”
Once that happens, Jared knows his family has a community to fall back on.
“Everything has been overwhelmingly awesome,” he said. “I mean I can’t – it’s awesome for all the support that we have gotten.”
Support that’ll help the six Cords family members in the next chapter of their lives.
“You’re going to think about it,” Jared said. “You’re always going to think about it. You just have to take it day by day. You can always rebuild or start a new chapter. That’s basically what we are doing. You can always start over, but everyone is still there. And that’s what matters to me.”
As for the rest of the family, Ravyn went back to school Monday and was reportedly ecstatic to be rejoining her classmates. Teagan was discharged last week, but was back in the O.R. Tuesday. Their foster son, Domanic, who jumped out of a window to escape the flame, will wear a boot for another three weeks until he gets reevaluated for cartilage damage. Erin, is expecting their fourth child – a baby boy – in January.
Financial donations can be send to Rushford State Bank. Make check payable to Jared and Erin Cords.