15-year-old saves disabled mom, and sister and aunt from house fire: 'The kid is a hero. This could've gone real bad, real quick'

When his house went up in flames, 15-year-old Donovan saved his family. (Photo: Getty Images)
When his house went up in flames, 15-year-old Donovan saved his family. (Photo: Getty Images)

A 15-year-old boy led his family to safety when their house went up in flames, and he’s being hailed as a hero.

Lorri Kurer fell asleep with her kids Sunday night after watching a movie in their Muskego, Wis., home, a Milwaukee Fox affiliate reported. She was woken by a popping sound around midnight Monday morning. Kurer, who relies on an oxygen tank, is disabled and recovering from stomach surgery, according to Fox.

“She was sleeping, she heard a pop, and when she woke up she saw there were flames coming from the area around her oxygen tank,” Mike Wojnowski, assistant chief of the local fire department, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “She attempted to put it out with a pillow and the fire was not going out, and it spread to things around the oxygen system.”

Kurer told a Milwaukee ABC news affiliate, “Thought I’d put it out with a pillow and all of the sudden my whole bed went up and my clothes went up.”

The fire started to spread toward the stairwell and up to the second floor, Wojnowski said. With his mom in a wheelchair, Donovan, 15, took charge. He woke up his sister and got her out before helping his mom out of the house. “And then he alerted the neighbor in the adjoining house, his aunt,” Wojnowski recalls. “She’s legally blind.”

Donovan also called 911. Once everyone was out, Donovan went back inside in an attempt to save their cats, according to Wojnowski. He made it back out but without the cats.

Although Donovan saved his family, it was unfortunately too late for the house. “When the first unit pulled up, the fire was blowing out of the first floor window and the second floor window,” Wojnowski said. “By the time we got there, it was pretty far gone. The side that they live on is a complete loss — the house and the contents,” he said.

They’ve been left with nothing, but they are all alive and in good condition. According to Fox, Donovan, his sister and his aunt were not injured, and Kurer suffered second-degree burns on her forearms. According to Fox, she was released from the hospital and was recovering at a friend’s home.

As of now, Wojnowski does not know how the fire started, but Kurer thinks it was her oxygen tank.
“[The fire] was right next to my oxygen tank and within a second, everything just — ‘boom,’” she told Fox. “If they were up in their beds last night, I might not have them today.”

And if Kurer’s son weren’t so courageous, she might not be here, either. “If her son didn’t do what he did, she probably would have perished in the fire,” Kurer’s boyfriend, Dean Moyer, told ABC.

Wojnowski agrees, but also offers a word of caution. “He did a very good job of getting the family out, but I just want to remind people that they really should not re-enter a fire structure once they exit, especially to get pets because animals tend to find their way out,” he said. “Human life comes first.”

To Moyer and Kurer, Donovan is simply a hero. “The kid is a hero. This could’ve gone real bad, real quick,” Moyer told Fox. “He was moving very quick and this kid is very sharp. He did his due diligence for the night, but the thing is, now they have to deal with this. It’s pretty horrific.”

According to Fox, the family left the house with nothing before everything inside was destroyed by the fire, and 10 of Kurer’s oxygen tanks exploded. But the community is coming together to help. “I know from what I’ve seen on social media, they are doing a GoFundMe page and there are businesses in the community that are collecting gift cards and clothing to donate to the family,” Wojnowski said.

The GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $5,000 for the family so far. “They have been through so much and are such an incredibly strong family,” the description reads. “With dealing with health care and health cost issues with their mother, having personal family problems, and just recently losing their family house to a fire.”

Wendy Gajewski, who works at the Muskego Food Pantry, is also doing what she can to help the family. “They left with nothing on their back, so we want to see what we can do to help,” Gajewski told Fox.

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