"Thank God, God woke up my wife Kelly," he tells PEOPLE, later adding, "This was a legit, '7-foot flame, taller than me' fire. It was a 'melting my ceiling fan onto my ottoman' fire"

By Tricia Despres
April 23, 2021 05:20 PM

Platinum-selling hitmaker Chris Janson admits he often has trouble sleeping, especially in the springtime when his allergies are the worst. But on one particular night in April, the country music wordsmith found himself finally content and enjoying a deep sleep when he suddenly felt a tap on his shoulder.

And it's that tap that just might have saved him and his family's lives.

"Thank God, God woke up my wife Kelly," Janson, 35, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview about the recent fire at his home located just south of Nashville. "If it weren't for her hearing that faint 'beep, beep' of the fire detector, it could have been very bad."

Because directly underneath their bedroom, a fire was raging.

"This was not a little fire," the Grand Ole Opry member remembers of the fire that raged earlier this month in his basement studio. "This was a legit, '7-foot flame, taller than me' fire. It was a 'melting my ceiling fan onto my ottoman' fire."

Chris Janson - “Waitin’ On 5"
Chris Janson
| Credit: Chris Janson/YouTube

After safely evacuating Kelly and children Georgia and Jessie from the increasingly smoky home, the Missouri native quickly called 911 to summon first responders from the Williamson County Fire Department to come and extinguish the fire.

But while he waited, the Missouri native decided to take matters in his own hands, trying his best to put out the fire with huge buckets of water he filled continuously until the first responders arrived.

"I went into survival mode," admits Janson, who has found himself on the top of the country music charts in recent years with hits such as "Drunk Girl," "Good Vibes" and "Buy Me a Boat." "The fire melted my ottoman and literally created a campfire essentially right in the middle of my studio room. Thankfully, it didn't burn the house."

Chris Janson - “Waitin’ On 5"
Chris Janson
| Credit: Chris Janson/YouTube

But there was something else that didn't entirely burn. In an Instagram post shared on Kelly Janson's Instagram page the morning after the fire, she shared a picture of what was left behind, including the charred remains of a very special book.

"It was our Jesus Calling devotional book," Janson notes. "It's not quite a Bible, but we have read from it since we were dating. The one that had been sitting on the ottoman was a spare copy since we keep the original copy by our bed. But it was one of the only things on the ottoman not completely burned up. I've said it multiple times, but God has our back. There is no other reason that Kelly would have woken up that night to that faint 'beep beep.'"

Granted, the fire did leave behind an incredible amount of damage. Currently, Janson says that a clean-up crew is feverishly at work "gutting the whole bottom" of their much-loved house.

But luckily, everything can be fixed — it could have been so much worse.

"I'm just grateful to be alive," Janson says quietly. "I'm grateful that the house didn't burn down."

And while Janson admits that he can't be completely sure of what caused the fire, he does have a pretty good idea.

Chris Janson - “Waitin’ On 5"
Chris Janson
| Credit: Chris Janson/YouTube

"Right now, I'm staring at the little laptop I have had for several years and the battery portion is burned up on it and is fused together with the charger," says Janson, who has also penned songs for everyone from Tim McGraw to LOCASH to Hank Williams Jr. "I am quite convinced that it literally just got overheated and one thing led to another."

He adds, "I encourage people to check smoke alarms. It's something we don't think about, but in ours, all of the detectors were supposed to be hardwired in and they are, but for some reason they all didn't go off at one time. Only the one in that one room was going off."

And while the incident turned out to be yet another crazy thing to happen in an increasingly crazy world, Janson says he is beginning to sense a return to normal … and much better times ahead.

 "It's great to see smiling people again," says Janson, who recently released a brand new "Waitin' On 5" Summer Jam Mix. "Fans have always been respectful at my shows, but I feel like there is this new profound way of being grateful for being to be at a concert. It's more than a show now. It's life-changing."