Stranger on the way to work alerts Martinsville family of garage fire

Family alerted to fire by passersby
House fire heroes
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MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WTHR) - A Martinsville family was awakened by someone trying to kick down their front door Thursday morning around 5:30 a.m. They are grateful for the intruder, because their garage was on fire.

Nicholas David was driving south to Bloomington on State Road 37 to his job where he was working construction at Memorial Stadium. Nurses Michelle Blundell and Heather Harp were enjoying a cup of coffee on the overnight shift at the Waters of Martinsville nursing home. They all saw a fire and reacted quickly to help.

"It looked like the entire house, the sky was completely lit up,” said Blundell.

Blundell and Harp ran across the street to find that only a detached garage was on fire, but the house is just a few feet from the garage.

"We've seen them around, seen the kids outside,” said Blundell. “I knew they had babies. We were getting in the house one way or the other."

David pulled up in his Jeep as the nurses ran up to the house.

"We all met at the door at the same time,” said Blundell. “We're banging on the door and the windows and you could see that nobody was up. He kicked in the door and we just ran in and started screaming to get out of bed, your house is on fire."

"It is risky, but I'm always the kind to put others first,” said David, a former volunteer firefighter. “I fully and firmly believe that we are all in this race together. We've got to look out for each other and help one another out."

Curtis and Danielle Howe, and their four-year-old son Caden and almost two-year-old daughter Lilly - and their dog - all got out safely.

“They were totally dazed and confused as to what was going on,” said Blundell. “One of them said, 'I thought someone was trying to break into our house.’"

The Martinsville Fire Department was working a basement fire just three blocks away and arrived quickly and put out the fire in less than 15 minutes, before it spread to the house.

But the Howe family never even got the names of their rescuers. Eyewitness News reconnected them Friday, including a phone call between Danielle and David.

"I'm sorry we didn't even get your name before you left,” Danielle said on speakerphone to David. “We felt so bad.”

“Oh, don't feel bad,” said David. “I'm grateful that you guys are all ok. The garage and the vehicles can all be replaced. You guys cannot."

“If you hadn't come when you came, then we would have been asleep in the smoke and everything and never woken up, so thank you so much.”

“I appreciate that. I'm glad you guys were ok. I'm glad that I was in the right place at the right time."

Danielle is a photographer and wants to thank David with a family photo session and dinner with her family. David believes he was just doing what anyone should.

“I truly love to help people,” said David. “I have a passion to help people. That's what we're called to do. That's what we should be doing each and every day. It really bothers me that so many of us are just in our own little world and don't pay attention to what's going on around us. We've got to be the saying ‘see something, say something’.”

The Martinsville Fire Department estimates up to $50,000 dollars damage, including two vehicles. The family minivan and children’s car seats were destroyed. Firefighters believe this was an electrical fire, likely caused by an overloaded circuit.

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