Rachel Garcia is one of those people who hates to go home sick from work.
"I will never endanger patient safety, but I'm the one who will power through it," said the registered nurse at PeaceHealth Medical Group's Cordata Clinic in Bellingham.
Despite her protests, Rachel ended up leaving work with an upset stomach the week before Christmas. On her way home, she spotted a house on fire.
"I thought, am I hallucinating? Am I that sick that I'm imagining this? And I looked, and it was like, no that's a fire,” said Garcia.
The house was indeed on fire. Inside were three children and a babysitter who were clueless that the back of the house was burning.
Garcia pulled over and burst through the front door.
"I yelled to them that there was a fire. I told them to ‘get out, now,’” Garcia recalled. “They looked at me like, who are you, crazy lady? And I said to ‘move it and get out now!’"
In the midst of it all, Garcia realized the house belonged to Jenny Brown, a co-worker in her same clinic.
"She told me my kids are fine, but the house is on fire," said Brown. "I took off. I may have broken a few traffic laws."
Garcia was able to get Brown’s 4-year-old son and his two friends out of the house safely. Firefighters said just a few more minutes, and it could've been a very different story.
"The flames were starting to engulf the house, coming over the top," said Brown. "To know there are people who care enough to stop, it blows my mind. Every day I am so incredibly thankful."
The cause of the fire was determined to be a faulty halogen light bulb. Many of the family's belongings were damaged or destroyed by smoke from the fire. Brown, her husband, and three children are staying in a hotel room until they can return to the rental home in March.
The staff at the clinic have taken up donations for the family, hoping to make the transition as painless as possible.
For now, Brown is simply thankful for a sick nurse who decided to take a dose of her own medicine and ended up making the most critical of house calls.
"After it happened I knew my guardian angel is here on Earth," said Brown. "There's no other way to explain it."
"It was just perfect, beautiful timing," said Garcia. "I feel really blessed to have been part of God's master plan and his perfect timing."