DES MOINES, Iowa — A passerby who made a wrong turn saved four people, three of them children, from a house fire in Red Oak, Iowa, around 2 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 23.
Tender Lehman, the mother of the four residents, was in Montana for a family emergency when the incident happened. Her children, ages 8, 14, 17 and 22, were sleeping when the fire began. Fire alarms had not gone off in the house.
The passerby, Brendon Birt, had made a wrong turn onto the street, where the house is located, and noticed the burning residence.
Ring doorbell footage shows Birt leaving his car and pounding on the windows to alert anyone who may be inside. In the following minutes, footage shows the four residents leaving through the front door moments before flames engulf the front of the house.
Firefighters from the Red Oak Fire Department responded to the blaze after the residents evacuated. Upon arrival, firefighters found the front of the two-story house in flames. Five dogs died in the fire, and two others were rescued.
Fie consumed her home:Elderly woman and dozens of dogs killed in Arizona house fire, officials say
Since the fire, Lehman and her family have been living in a pull-behind camper trailer in Red Oak with her children and the two dogs.
“There’s six of us,” Lehman said about the camper. “Under normal circumstances, I don’t think it would be as cramped.”
Lehman said that one blessing from the aftermath of the fire has been the support her family has received from others in Red Oak.
Emergency response plan:4 fire safety products you should always have in the house
“It’s been overwhelming, but it’s overwhelming in a way that I’m so grateful for,” she said.
She said Oak Valley Veterinary Hospital in Red Oak donated cremation services for the deceased dogs, and that residents in town, the Red Oak Elks and the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital have donated food and clothing to the family.
A GoFundMe for the family has also received more than $9,250 in donations, with a goal of $30,000 to assist with buying a new house.
The cause of the fire is unknown and under investigation by the Red Oak Fire Department.
Follow Nina Baker on Twitter: @Nina_M_Baker.