'They came out the door [and] I just felt like I just wanted to break down and cry.'
A wrong turn can sometimes lead to the right location. Such was the case of Brendon Birt, who was driving down a road at 2 a.m. in Red Oak, Iowa, when he made a wrong turn and happened to pass by a family's home just as it caught on fire. "I just felt like somebody was in there," Birt told KETV. "I just knew I had to act quick."
Birt acted on his feet, quickly calling 911, then banging on the windows to wake whoever was inside. Turns out, there were four siblings inside the house, three children and an adult, who said that they did not wake up until they heard someone yelling from outside followed by the hammering noise given that it was so late in the night and the smoke detectors in the house also didn't go off.
Captured on Ring doorbell camera: Family of four in Red Oak, Iowa, runs for their lives as fire engulfs their home. It was late at night and they were roused from their sleep by a passersby who started pounding on the windows. The man, Brendon Birt, is being hailed a hero. pic.twitter.com/UPiA4EBRdw— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) October 31, 2022
Sisters Kindred, 17, Spirit, 14 and their little brother Christopher, 8, got out first, as was caught on the footage by the Ring doorbell. The 22-year-old, Bryce, eventually escaped just before the flames spread after some time. "Everything was just black in the living room. There's nothing left of it," Christopher, the youngest sibling, shared. "Walked up into an oven of heat and flames on the front, the front wall," said Bryce Harrison, the 22-year-old sibling.
"Like every second that was going by was just getting worse," Birt said. "They came out the door [and] I just felt like I just wanted to break down and cry," Birt told KETV. Even though the firefighters came quickly, the fire had already spread out really badly by then. “They told me that the steps to get downstairs when they ran out the door were on fire already,” Birt shared. “So another five minutes, I don’t think they would have got out.”
Tender Lehman, the siblings' mom, shared that she was in Montana attending to a family emergency. Tender, in an interview with CNN, said, “It was awful. I immediately called my kids and got on FaceTime with like the firefighters and stuff,” adding, “And yeah, it was crazy, but they were safe and that was the main thing.”
A GoFundMe set up by Tender's mom reports that the family's home, their belongings and five of the family's dogs of which two were emotional support dogs did not survive the fire. She describes it as a "terrible blow" and "a total loss" for her daughter's family. She hails Brendon Birt as a "hero" and acknowledged that because of him "everybody got out with seconds to spare." The mom shares that even though she's lost everything, she's grateful to Brendon for saving the most important thing: her children. "My kids wouldn't have made it," Lehman told KETV. "They're safe because of him." Lehman noted that Birt is "family now," even though it was merely a wrong turn that brought their lives together.
“Brendon Birt is the man in the video, pounding on windows on the side of the house.— Shane B. Murphy (@shanermurph) October 29, 2022
Smoke alarms were not going off.”
Man saved lives when seconds mattered most.
Can’t stress the importance of working smoke alarms enough. Make sure yours are working, please. #firesafety pic.twitter.com/gNbSs1mqm5
A friend offered a camper to Tender, her husband, the four children along with the two surviving dogs, so they could have a place to stay while they recovered from the fire. Tender calls her children "incredible," adding, “They’re incredible, incredible kids and the level of maturity that they all showed in the wake of that just floors me.” Tender's mom agrees and says, "Anybody who knows them, knows their hearts!"