Imagine plunging into a raging inferno and immediately finding yourself trapped in its raging flames with no immediate escape from the searing temperatures.
That was reality for Los Angeles Fire Department Captain Cheyane Caldwell when a 2007 call to aid a burning building nearly claimed his life.
“There’s no way I should have survived,” Caldwell recently said while sharing his incredible survival story on the premiere episode of Edifi’s “Jesus Is All We Need” podcast. “Nobody expected me to survive.”
Caldwell was forever changed on July 24, 2007, a day that now “lives in infamy” for him. It all began with an event known as the “Adams fire,” a one-story structure fire in California that became a defining point in his life.
Listen to Caldwell explain the miracles that he believes saved him from the blaze:
When Caldwell and his team arrived at the fire, it was evident the blaze was quicking spinning out-of-control. As he got on the roof to assess the situation, that’s when the unthinkable happened.
“I stepped over this division wall and … I fell through the decking into the structure fire and fell about 13 [or] 15 feet into the structure,” he said. “A ball of fire came out the hole I created, so you can imagine what was underneath me.”
As the flames continued to engulf the building, Caldwell remembers waking up on the ground in the midst of sweltering heat, with the blaze quickly closing in and with no immediate exit.
“I thought three things in my mind clear as day: ‘Okay Lord, I’m in here all by myself,’” he recalled. “Second, ‘Lord, this is it. I’m ready’ — and lastly, my life just went before me all on a DVD in fast order.”
The immense pain Caldwell felt in those moments was unbearable, as he compared the intensity to “putting your hands in the oven and just letting them burn.”
“I couldn’t pull my hands out of the oven,” he said. “My arms, my hands, my face, the back of my head, my belly. .. this was hell on Earth.”