It was the middle of the night and Christa Jasper was sleeping soundly in her second-floor bedroom when she was jolted awake by a loud crashing sound.

The noise was so jarring that she assumed the worst.

"It sounded like the whole first floor had caved into the basement," she said.

She shot out of bed to investigate, and as she went down the stairs, heard the smoke detectors going off and then inhaled thick smoke. Her thoughts raced to her two children, 15-month old Gavin and three-year-old Jadyn, who had bedrooms on the first floor of the family's 1920s farmhouse.

In a matter of moments, she and her husband, Daniel, had the two kids outside and called 9-1-1.

They were safe.

The basement wood stove's chimney had caught fire, detaching its metal liner and causing the thunderous sound that woke Christa Jasper. As they waited for help to arrive, the fire began to spread to a beam above the stove and into the hall on the first floor. A 40-gallon fish tank exploded - helping slow the spread of flames.

It wasn't long before they realized just how lucky they had been.

"If I didn't get up when I did, if I'd gotten up two minutes later, I wouldn't have had time to get the kids," she said.

Breaking into tears over the phone, she was overcome by her emotions.

"It makes you really realize what's important. It doesn't matter if what you have goes up in flames, because your kids are not replaceable."

Damage is repairableThe fire claimed a decent portion of the Jasper family's house that night, which will be covered by the family's insurance. And while the middle-of-the-night fire erased much of the renovation work the couple had put into their home, the close call left the family thankful that the outcome wasn't significantly worse - or even fatal.

Lewis and Clark volunteer Fire Captain Kevin Miller was on the crew that responded to the 1:49 a.m. call to Mudd Lane.

He too said the family was just plain lucky they left when they did.

"Within five minutes, the flames were starting to roll on the ceiling," Miller said. Water from the family's aquarium, which had been placed against the wall that concealed the chimney, helped delay the fire's spread, he said.

The tank held about 40 gallons, Christa Jasper said, and it was intact when she left the house with the kids - but it didn't last long.

"It literally exploded," she said. "I've never been in a fire like this, and I've never heard of a fish tank helping to put one out either."

Miller thought the damage to the home might cost about $25,000 to repair. Water, smoke and flames hurt sheet rock, flooring and carpet, not to mention charred wood in the basement and the hallway, he said.

After fighting fires for 37 years for the Lewis and Clark Fire Department, he knew just how close a brush the Jaspers just had with death.

"We almost had a tragic morning. This family is definitely lucky." Even the Jasper dogs - nine labrador puppies and their parents - made it out of the house unscathed.

Family thanks communityThe Jasper family had just come back from a hunting trip Sunday night, and the parents had tucked the kids right into bed. Exhausted, they left their bags by the front door, started a fire to get the chill out of the house, and went to sleep soon after, Christa Jasper said. Those bags were in just the right spot for the family's hasty exit a few hours later, and proved helpful when they went to spend the rest of the night with family in Knappa.

Christa Jasper said they're thankful too that they have family to stay with, and a relative has even offered a fifth wheel that could be parked on their property while the house is repaired. With so many calls on Monday from concerned family and friends, she was grateful to be part of such a caring community.

"I want to tell everyone thank-you. We've gotten so many calls from people in the community, that's how we're getting through," she said.

Daniel Jasper works at Gustafson Logging, and the company has been helpful about letting him take the time off he needs to work with the insurance crew as they assess the damage, Christa Jasper said. And the folks from State Farm Insurance were out right away, offering to help find the family a place to stay, she added.

Desperately wanting a shower and waiting for insurance inspectors to take a look at her house on Tuesday afternoon, Christa Jasper's faith had been reaffirmed.

"We were being watched over last night. The fire department told us last night, 'God was watching over you. You didn't have more than two minutes,'" she said.

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