How come the Hale fire had only one survivor (Peter Hale)?
Kate: 900,000 volts! You never were good with electricity were you? Or fire?
But in 1×10 ‘Co-Captain’ we see in Peter’s flashback to the fire; the hunters coming to the Hale house and pouring some kind of liquid accelerant into the basement and this really confused me because I couldn’t properly reconcile the contradictions. Why we were told the fire was electrical but then shown that it wasn’t. Then all the pieces just kind of slotted into place.
Chris: You know my family’s done this for a long time. Long enough to learn things like how a certain level of electric current can keep you from transforming. At another level you can’t heal, a few amps higher and no super strength. That kind of scientific accuracy makes you wonder where the line between the natural and the supernatural really exists.
I did a bit of research into electrical fires and learnt that why they are considered so dangerous is because they can’t be fought with things like water or foam because these can conduct electricity. Once the electricity has been switched off it’s just an ordinary fire but until then…yeah. So whatever the hunters were pouring into and on the house would have probably been a conductor and this helps explain how a fire could have gotten the better of all those people and werewolves.
Up to this point I’ve assumed that even though fire burns it is something that a werewolf could easily enough recover from, that they could run through flames and survive where a human would have no chance. The Hale’s were not asleep they didn’t die of smoke inhalation it was only 7.14pm when the fire occurred (seriously Derek is just lying about the whole being at school thing) and I just found it really hard, before, to wrap my head around how Peter could possibly have been the only survivor – it just didn’t make sense. Surely the werewolf members of the pack could have helped save the humans!
Now that I have embraced the fact that it was an electrical fire and that accelerant was also used it makes far more sense. Especially coupled with the fact that there is a large body of water in the basement of the Hale house and possibly running underneath the entire property. When the electrical fire started the chemical accelerant and this water would have become dangerous it would have likely electrocuted any werewolf that tried to cross it and weakened them, possibly stopping them from transforming and heal as well and probably killing or seriously injured any human. Thus making the superhuman aspect of being a werewolf negligible in the whole surviving a fire thing.
So how did Peter survive?
We know from 1×12 ‘Code Breaker‘ that there is an entrance from the woods into the Hale basement because Scott entered through it.
In 1×12 you can also see the stairs up to the house behind Derek when he is being tortured. (Also the ripples of all the water).
In the 1×10 ‘C0-Captain’ flashback we see three other people (a boy, girl and a man) besides Peter trapped in the basement (we know it’s the basement because we can see the same windows as when Derek was kept prisoner by Kate) and they are separated from Peter by a wall of flame and are vainly trying to escape through some grates.
The wood entrance to the basement was on the side of the wall of flames that Peter was trapped on thus enabling him to escape.
Peter: The tunnel and basement I used to escape the fire (1×12).
As they are on the side of the flames that the stairs to the house are on it indicates that the house was maybe already an inferno and that they were trapped where they were by fire and electrified liquid/water – they might have even been human members of the pack. We only see two hunters pouring liquid accelerant into the basement but we know other arsonists were involved in the fire (because Peter killed them) so they maybe would have done the same elsewhere in the house so the fire became very large very quickly.
I wonder why this seemed like the only possible way to escape? Were there no other doors or windows they could go through? I am guessing maybe the hunters set them all on fire, who knows maybe they were even standing there ready to stop them? The pack probably hoped that their secret entrance/exit was still secret?
It is interesting that at this point in the flashback Peter looks unburned. Does this mean the tunnel was lit on fire as well? Kate knew where it was because she led Allison down the tunnel so it’s quite possible that Derek revealed its existence to her and the rest of the hunters but no-one else in the pack knew this except maybe Peter.
I have considered the possibility that Peter was not actually in the house when the fire started and entered via the tunnel to help after it began thus that is why he’s on the other side of the wall of flames. Peter not being in the house at the time of the fire is the most plausible explanation for why he was the only known survivor (we think another two people survived). That way he was not initially trapped in the house by electricity and fire and arrived on the scene late.
The reason I have considered the possibility that Peter wasn’t in the house at the time of the fire is because when he woke up from his coma he knew exactly who was responsible and who to go after. Anyone else find it strange? When did he have the time to figure it all out? When no-one else knew about Kate and the arson except Derek not even Laura (remember she was asking questions when she came back to Beacon Hills). Which means that Peter may have known about Derek and Kate all along and was out looking for Derek the night of the fire (again I still believe that Derek was lying about being at school). Laura might have gone with Peter and it was one of those Dumbledore situations that as soon as Peter got away from the house he realised what was actually happening and rushed back but was too late to save anyone.
So Peter survived but failed to rescue anyone from the basement and got his “personality and mind burnt out” of him and was left comatose. How? Why? What? Well we postulate that if werewolves have some kind of telepathy (read here) then the members of Peter’s pack dying severely traumatised him. Like his mind couldn’t handle the agony so it fled and took him 6 years to recover. Or maybe as he was running for the tunnel a burning beam fell on him and he got electrocuted, who actually knows how he got so injured it could have been a combination of things.
Equally as another theory (this is a favourite of mine) if you look carefully at the man on the other side of the fire, he also has the side of his face burnt much like Peter had when we were first introduced to him
(albeit it the other side but shhh whatever let me run with my theory it could just be a make-up mistake). In Season 2 in 2×11 ‘Battlefield’ Deaton teaches Isaac how to take the pain away from a dog. What if this can go even further – what if a werewolf can absorb the injuries of another? Is it possible that Peter took on the burns of this other man (maybe his brother) in an attempt to save him? This would be very gallant of him because my other theory is that he was involved in the fire and killed the people involved to hide his tracks and also because they betrayed him :SSSS Peter is just one of those characters that I love but don’t trust at all.
At the end of the day this loooong ramble (sorry) was basically just supposed to clarify that the electrical nature of the fire can explain why more people/werewolves didn’t survive it because electricity severely weakens a werewolf. Plus the use of accelerant by the hunter means the fire got big fast!