Michigan woman who lost home to fire surprised at how little time she had to escape the flames

In January 2011, Amy Krug of Fenton, Michigan was on her couch watching a late-night television show when she dozed off. Around 12:30 a.m., she was awakened by her dog, Tanner, who was acting strangely. Tanner was letting Amy know there was a fire in her utility room, even before the smoke detector went off. Amy says her furnace malfunctioned and gas was released.

“Once the furnace ignited, there was a ‘poof’ and the room was on fire,” she said. “Unfortunately, the utility room was full of various kitchen items we were storing temporarily as we were going to be getting a new appliance the next day and wanted a clear pathway for the delivery crew.”

These additional items coupled with typical utility room items provided the flames extra fuel and the fire ignited very quickly.

Once Amy realized there was a fire, she unsuccessfully attempted to put it out. She then grabbed her cordless phone to call 911. While on the line, flames had struck the electrical box and the phone went dead. That’s when she realized it was time to get out.

“I went back to my bedroom where my dog was hiding, grabbed him and tried to exit my home,” she added. “By this time, the house was filled with smoke down to my knees.”

With no electricity and no lighting, Amy and Tanner were forced to crawl out the front door to safety.

Tanner the Hero Dog

Michigan had just experienced a major snowstorm, so fire crews had a difficult time responding to the fire and had to bring in a tanker truck, which caused delays. Unfortunately, these delays contributed to the house being deemed a total loss.

“The only thing I left my house with was my dog. Luckily, friends and family sifted through the rubble over the next few days and were able to locate my grandmother’s wedding ring. My dog and that family heirloom were the only things that survived the fire.”

Amy says the thing that surprised her most was how quickly the fire spread.

“I’ve never had a house fire,” she said. “I assumed I’d have time to gather important items before getting out. That certainly wasn’t the case. I didn’t even have time to grab my purse, cell phone or car keys.”

Red Cross volunteers arrived at the scene to offer assistance. Fortunately, Amy had the assistance of nearby family members and her insurance company and was able to decline assistance. Many fire victims, however, rely on the assistance of the Red Cross to get through the days immediately following a tragic home fire. In fact, Amy’s sister suffered a similar fate nine years later and received assistance from the Red Cross which helped her get back on her feet.

Amy now has three-year-old twin daughters, Eleanor and Elizabeth, and plans to teach them home fire safety when they get older. She checks her smoke alarms monthly and has installed an escape ladder upstairs in her new home. She encourages others to do the same in the event it happens to them.

“It was comforting to know there were resources out there, like the Red Cross. Most people think of blood drives, flooding and hurricane response when they think of the Red Cross,” she added. “The Red  Cross is an organization we are very fortunate to have in our communities.”

The Red Cross urge families to equip their homes with working smoke detectors and develop a home fire escape plan. The following link provides information on the Red Cross “Sound the Alarm” campaign and how families can make their homes “fire safe”.


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