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Fort Wayne family’s emergency plan saves family, home from fire

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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - A family's garage caught fire early Monday morning, however, because of their quick thinking and emergency plan, it saved them and their home.

The fire chief with the Huntertown Fire Department told Fort Wayne's NBC News that his crew responded to a house fire located in the 1700 block of Kruse Lane Monday after 6 a.m.. They said parts of the garage caught fire. Fire officials said the family safely go outside, and their crew saved two guinea pigs that were inside the garage.

Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with the fire chief about the incident. He said the family's quick actions and emergency plan prevented the fire from spreading, and causing more damage to the house. He said if the family did not act quickly, the outcome could have been much different.

"If she (the mother) would have left that door (garage door) open, that fire could have gone through the kitchen, down into the living room, and out the front door before fire crews ever got there," said Robert Boren, the fire chief of the Huntertown Fire Department.

Fort Wayne's NBC News talked with the family to learn more about their emergency plan.

Frank Strzelecki, the father of the family, said it's because of his daughter, Anna, that the family was aware about the fire.

Anna told Fort Wayne's NBC News that she heard a strange noise from the garage. Rather than ignoring it, she told her parents immediately. Frank said that's when he and his wife, opened the garage door and saw the thick black smoke and heavy flames. Frank said his wife quickly shut the door, which prevented the smoke and flames from quickly spreading throughout the house.

"To think something could be gone in an instant is the worse feeling. My job is to protect my kids, and protect my wife," Frank said.

Frank said he and his family quickly went outside to their emergency meeting area and called 911. He said his daughter's immediate action, and his wife's quick thinking saved their family and their home.

"Our guinea pigs are still alive, our daughters are still alive, my wife is still alive, again, if we didn't have that plan, something could have gone totally different," said Frank.

Firefighters with the Huntertown Fire Department quickly rushed into the house and saved the family's two guinea pigs inside the garage. They said crews gave the guinea pigs oxygen once they were outside.

The family said they are doing okay, and they are grateful for the help from the Huntertown Fire Department, Fort Wayne Fire Department, and their neighbors.

Frank said several of his neighbors came out to offer his family support, food, coffee, and food for the guinea pigs during the incident.

He said material items can always be replaced, however, he is extremely grateful that his family is okay.

Frank and his wife, Heather, said their family was able to create an emergency plan because of the first responders who educate students at schools about fires. They said their daughters learned from those sessions, and shared them with the family.

The fire chief with the Huntertown Fire Department said he encourages family's to have an emergency plan in case of a fire. He said families should close their doors inside their home before going to sleep in order to limit any possible fire and smoke from spreading throughout the house.

To learn more about creating an emergency plan for yourself and your loved ones, please click here.

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Louie Tran

Louie Tran is the weekend anchor for Fort Wayne’s NBC at 6 and 11pm and a weekday general assignment reporter. To share story ideas, please email him at ltran@wpta21.com.

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