Children Spared Fiery Deaths after Iowa Man Makes a Wrong Turn at the Right Time


by Jim Clayborn | RNN

One man’s minor mistake led him to what could otherwise have been a major tragedy Sunday night.

After making a wrong turn while on his way to drop off a friend, Brendon Birt drove past an Iowa house fire. Birt rushed into action, taking desperate measures to warn those inside, ultimately saving four siblings.

The entire incident was caught on a doorbell Ring camera.

A wrong turn at the right time

KETV reported that Birt saw flames on the porch of a home in Red Oak.

“I just remember driving by the house and looking to my left,” said Birt. “I just see flames on the porch. I just knew it was going to get real bad real quick.”

Three kids, ages 8, 14, and 17, and their older brother, age 22, were asleep inside the home, where smoke alarms hadn’t gone off.

Birt told KETV he was convinced people were inside. He stated, “I just felt like somebody was in there because it was so late at night, you know? I just knew that I had to act quick.”

In one version of the Ring doorbell camera footage, which documented the harrowing incident, Birt’s car can be seen reversing after initially passing by the house. Upon seeing the inferno, he dashed out of the vehicle with phone in hand, calling emergency services.

While he had notified the authorities, Birt indicated that he was not content to sit idly by and wait.

Birt said, “I took a step back. The heat was just so crazy, so I went to the side of the house. I couldn’t see nothing, it was so dark.”

Birt pounded windows and doors, shouting out that there was a fire and imploring those inside to get out.

Fourteen-year-old Spirit Lehman told NBC News that she woke up after hearing Birt’s “banging and the screaming outside of the house.”

Spirit Lehman acted quickly, waking up both her younger brother Christopher and her older sister Kindred. The kids’ older brother, Bryce Harrison, soon followed suit, barreling out the front door and onto the porch, which by then was fully engulfed in flame.

Harrison told KCRG that when making his escape, he entered “an oven of heat and flames on the front, the front wall.”

When the four residents ran out of the house, Birt said he “wanted to break down and cry. Like, I don’t even know these people here.”

Although the siblings made it out of the house alive, five of their dogs perished in the blaze. Two dogs survived.

The Lehmans’ house was rendered a write-off, having been devoured by the fire. Christopher Lehman said that “everything was just black in the living room. … There was nothing left of it.”

Tender Lehman, the kids’ mother, had been away in Montana for a family emergency over the weekend. Lehman said she was “incredibly grateful” for what Birt had done, noting her “kids wouldn’t have made it, man.”

Birt is “family now,” said Lehman.

Lehman noted that she and her husband “built a beautiful life from nothing once, and have faith that [they] can do it again.”

Lehman added that she was heartened by the community’s provision of clothing and support for her children in the aftermath of the fire.

WATCH full NBC report here:


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