Watch: Rach Opens Up About Her House Fire
For the first time, Rach is opening up about the house fire that destroyed her upstate home this past August.
"On August 9, my house burned," she said during the season 15 premiere of Rachael. "Fifteen years of memories; 40 years of notebooks, drawings, thoughts, my life's work. Today, we're going to share what's left of our home with you."
The fire broke out on Sunday night, a night Rach and John thought would be celebratory. "John was going to go play golf for the first time with other human beings," Rach said, "and I thought they were going to have this perfect day, so I was going to make a big pasta dinner for John because that makes him the happiest."
But that evening, while Rach was preparing the meal, a man came running through her backyard. "He jumped off an ATV, and he's in our backyard screaming, 'Your roof is one fire! Your roof is on fire!'"
Rach, who is the first female board member of Denis Leary's Leary Firefighters Foundation and a longtime proponent of fire safety, immediately jumped to action.
The man who had alerted Rach and John to the fire had called the fire department, and John also called.
"I ran upstairs to get medicine, my notebooks, my mother's high school ring—things that, when your house is burning down, you don't want to leave," Rach said. "But when I ran to the top of the stairs, I could hear the fire in the wall. I could hear electricity. I could hear danger."
Rach's experience with the Denis Leary foundation had taught her to know those sounds meant she needed to leave immediately. She turned to leave, and there was a firefighter standing right next to her, telling her to hurry out.
She and John grabbed Bella Boo, their dog, and left. "We left our house, we came down the hill, me in my flip flops," Rach said. "That's all we left with, basically—our dog, the clothes on our back."
"We were watching our house burn and burn and burn, and it wouldn't stop," John said. "And you're just thinking, 'Oh, God. What's going to be left?"
Turns out, Rach and John were lucky, considering the circumstances. The first thing the fire investigator who inspected Rach's home said was, "I don't want to set your hopes too high, but I've seen worse"—which made Rach laugh.
"He said 'I've seen worse,'" Rach said. "Who doesn't love that guy!?"
The fire, which started in the chimney even though Rach and John have it regularly cleaned, was devastating, but the two felt grateful to have what mattered most—their lives, each other, and their puppy.
"In the years that I lived here, I learned an awful lot," Rach said. "In the few weeks since it burned, I think I've learned even more."
Rach is sharing her story to remind everyone that a fire can happen to anyone, and it's critical to be prepared. "Fire doesn't discriminate," the fire investigator said, and Rachael is living proof of that.