In some cases, a wrong decision can be a lifesaver. Driving home one night, 26-year-old Brendon Birt would make a mistake that would have a huge impact on the lives of a family in Iowa.
On October 23, Birt was driving to a friend’s house early in the morning. After dropping off his friend, he took a wrong turn and ended up in front of a burning house in Red Oak. It was 2:00 am, so he guessed that there were probably people sleeping inside.
She immediately called 911 for help, then ran to the side of the house. He started banging on the windows in an attempt to wake up the people inside.
Birt shared, “I felt like someone was there because it was so late at night. He just knew that he had to act fast. With each passing second it got worse.”
He added: “I was yelling, yelling, I just tried to wake them up because I thought someone was in the house. I just acted… there was no time to wait, I realized it was now or never.”
Video footage from the home’s doorbell showed the fire quickly spreading across the entire front porch. Smoke alarms would not go off.
Sisters Kindred, 17, Spirit, 14, and their little brother Christopher, 8, were the first to leave the house. Chris recalled: “Everything was black in the living room. There was nothing left of that.”
About a minute later, her 22-year-old brother Bryce Harrison ran outside through the smoke and fire. He said: “[I] walked into a furnace of heat and flames in the front, the front wall.”
Birt recalled that moment and said: “They walked out the door… I just wanted to break down in tears. I don’t even know these people here.”
Unfortunately, the parents were not home at the time of the incident. His mother, Tender Lehman, was dealing with a family emergency some 750 miles away in Montana.
His father, on the other hand, was working on the other side of the state. Tender said: “It was horrible. I immediately called my kids and FaceTimed with the fire department and stuff. And yes, it was crazy, but they were safe and that was the main thing. He made record time driving home to be with his children after learning about the fire.
The family was very grateful, saying it was a miracle that Birt was driving home to the area at the right time and was able to wake everyone up.
The fire spread very quickly, but it was good that the firefighters arrived just after all the occupants had safely evacuated the house.
Birt said: “I was told that the steps to go down the stairs when they ran out the door were already on fire. So another five minutes, I don’t think they would have come out.”
A few days later, Tender met the man who luckily made a mistake while driving home and saved his children. She said: “I am incredibly grateful. My kids wouldn’t have made it.”
Tender said none of the family members were injured. Sadly, five of the family’s dogs died.
Two of those dogs were emotional support animals. The Red Oak Fire Department has yet to determine what caused the fire.
Every day, the Lehman family talks to Birt and helps each other recover from the experience. Since the fire, the Lehman family and their two surviving dogs have been living in an RV borrowed from a friend, so they have a place to stay.
Due to a problem with the roof, the family did not have insurance for their home. They had planned to fix their insurance the next month until the fire happened. Consequently, the Lehmans lost everything in the fire.
Tender created a GoFundMe campaign to help his family recover from the fire. She said her children are grieving the loss of their pets, as well as the life they used to have.
However, the parents felt they were holding up pretty well given the circumstances. She said: “You know, they’re amazing. They’re amazing, amazing kids and the level of maturity that they all showed in the wake of that just blows me away.”
Fortunately, there are still heroes among us. Earlier this year in Indiana, another man was driving through a northwestern Indiana city early in the morning and saved five people from a burning house. In another incident, a police officer ran into a burning apartment and saved a three-year-old boy.
Who knew that making a wrong turn while driving home would be a life-changing event? The house may be a total loss, but the Lehmans are safe and can move on together, thanks to Birt and a fateful mistake.
See Birt heroically saving the children of Lehman in the video below: