Members of a Red Oak, Iowa, family were able to escape their burning home after a driver, who’d wound up on their street by mistake, saw the flames and rushed to wake them up.
Brendon Birt told CNN that he was giving a friend a ride home early on October 23 and made a wrong turn which took him right in front of the house in Red Oak.
It was about 2 a.m., so he assumed that there were probably people inside.
He called 911 and went to the side of the house and started banging on windows.
“I was screaming, yelling, just tried to wake them up because I just figured somebody was in the house,” Birt said. “I just acted … there was no time to wait, like, I just realized it’s either now or never.”
Video from the home’s doorbell camera showed the flames spread quickly across the porch before the siblings ran out of the house and into the yard.
Sisters Kindred, 17, Spirit,14, and their little brother Chris, 8, got out first. Their older brother Bryce ran through the smoke and fire about a minute later.
“[I] walked up into an oven of heat and flames on the front, the front wall,” the 22-year-old told CNN affiliate KETV.
Their mom, Tender Lehman, told CNN she was about 750 miles away in Montana at the time, dealing with a family emergency. Her husband was working on the other side of the state.
“It was awful. I immediately called my kids and got on FaceTime with like the firefighters and stuff,” she said. “And yeah, it was crazy, but they were safe and that was the main thing.”
Lehman said her mom drove her back home in record time to be back with the kids.
She said that it was a miracle that Birt happened to be in the area and was able to wake to wake everyone up.
Birt, 26, said firefighters arrived shortly after everyone made it out of the house, but the fire had spread very quickly.
“They told me that the steps to get downstairs when they ran out the door were on fire already,” he said. “So another five minutes, I don’t think they would have got out.”
The Red Oak Fire Department has not yet determined the cause of the fire.
No one was injured, but Lehman said five of the family’s dogs, two of which were emotional support animals, died.
She said they talk to Birt every day and that they’re helping each other heal from the experience.
A friend lent them a camper so Lehman, her husband, the four children and two dogs who survived the fire would have a place to stay.
Lehman said they didn’t have insurance because of a problem with the roof, but had planned to sort that out next month.
They lost everything in the fire.
Her mother set up a GoFundMe campaign to help them get back on their feet.
Lehman said the kids are grieving their pets and missing the life they used to have, but are doing pretty well.
“You know, they’re incredible. They’re incredible, incredible kids and the level of maturity that they all showed in the wake of that just floors me,” she said.