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Family says fire escape plan likely saved 15 lives

Family says fire escape plan likely...

TOWN OF SHELBY, Wis. (WKBT) - Does your family know what to do if a fire starts in your home?

A national survey this year found less than half of Americans know what's included in a fire escape plan.

This is National Fire Prevention week.

A Town of Shelby family recently had to put their escape plan into action and it likely saved 15 lives.

Bob and Jen Masewicz were throwing their son, Charlie, a Sweet 16 birthday party on Friday, Sept. 15th.

"So we had a nice pool party going, a lot festivities out here on the deck," said Bob.
    

The Masewicz family: Bob and Jen, 16-year-old Charlie, 14-year-old Maddie, 11-year-old Bella and 8-year-old Sofia, grew by 9 that night as they settled in for the evening.

Bob said, "Charlie had 9 of his, well we had a lot of friends over the night before, but 9 of his buddies stayed the night."   

The boys retreated to the basement after the festivities while the rest of the family went to bed in their rooms on the second floor.

Jen said, "At 2 a.m., Bob and I said, 'it's time to go to sleep, we're exhausted and so I said, I'm coming down at 7:21 to wake up Charlie and kiss him because that's the time he was born and I said but you guys can sleep in and we had planned a big breakfast for them in the morning.'"

But the wake up call came much earlier than expected.

"911, what is the address of your emergency? W5750 Sherwood Drive. The house is on fire."

"I woke up, I was thinking I was going to go back to sleep and I saw the red and noticed that it sounded like crackling so I thought it was fire and so I don't remember thinking about anything, I just remember doing," said 14-year-old Maddie.

Because the Masewicz's had practiced their escape plan many times before, everyone knew exactly what to do.

"Maddie said, "'Fire, Fire!' I got up , jumped out of bed, I looked to the back of the house and the back of the house was red. It hadn't penetrated in at that time," said Bob.

Jen said, "I remember seeing orange, like the whole side of our wall orange and thinking, 'ok, it's go time. I just knew her (Bella) bedroom is the first one out of our room and I just ran in there and grabbed her out of bed. Maddie knew, her job was always to get Sofia, she's across the room and Maddie went right away and got her out, which saved seconds."

The three young girls and their dog Romney were able to make it down the stairs and out the front door safely, just as Maddie's window exploded.

Bob said, "By the time we actually got to the first floor, it was probably only 10 seconds that had lapsed."

Jen's attention immediately turned to the basement full of sleeping teenage boys.

"Jen just came downstairs screaming," said Peter Fleming, one of 9 friends of Charlie's that was spending the night.

"As soon as I heard fire, my reaction was really to just get up and get out of the house," said another friend Jhakai Funches.

"I thought she was coming down to wake us up for breakfast," said Aravis Adams.

Peter said, "At first I thought it was joke because she said she was going to come downstairs and wake Charlie up for his birthday."

"I first ran into the kitchen, but that's where the fire was," said Adian Roth.

Charlie said, "I just went up the stairs and I went towards these doors and my dad had to turn us all around because the fire was right here and then we went out the front door and I was just thinking 'where's my sisters?'"

Two of the boys were already nursing injured legs.

"Jen was like literally carrying me up the stairs because I had a cast on my leg," said Jordan Davis.

Russell Heise said, "I didn't really feel my leg at the point, cause it was just an adrenaline rush so I ran out the stairs without my boot on or anything. When I got out, the fire was probably like 10-15 feet away from me in the kitchen. It was really scary."

Bob estimates it took less than two minutes to evacuate all 15 people. A designated meeting spot and head count in the neighbors yard confirmed that everyone had made it out safely.

Jen said, "I kept asking, promise me, promise me, everybody's out because there was a lot of boys here."

"It probably would've been a different story if Maddie and the Masewicz's didn't wake us up in time and all that, but I'm just thankful they did," said another friend of Charlie's, Aidan Franz.

Bob said, "I can't stress enough how the evac plan helped. We had like 3 or 4 exit strategies that we always talked about and we always talked about getting to the Donskey's, the neighbors, that was our meeting spot.

"The evacuation plan that the residents had was top notch and they did a fantastic job. Things like this, seconds count. You gotta make sure you have your plan ahead of time, make sure everybody knows the plan, understands the plan and can get out as soon as they can."

As the Masewicz's pick up the pieces and reflect on just how lucky they are, they're beyond thankful for the outpouring of support that has come in the face of such devastation.

"Everybody's safe and got out, that's what matters, cause all of this is just stuff," said Jen. 

Bob said, "It's 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning and all of the sudden, we had 40-50 people in our front yard, our phones are ringing and they're texting us, they came out in mass and it hasn't stopped."

"Some neighbor, I was concerned about Bella not having her glasses and not being able to see, someone got a hold of Gundersen, got her prescription, went out to the mall, 10 in the morning she had her glasses, someone opened their store and made her glasses. It's been amazing. amazing," said Jen.

And while the birthday celebration might not have gone as planned, 15 people got a gift that night, a gift of more birthdays to come.

Here are some things that a home escape plan should include: working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom and near all sleeping areas; two ways out of every room, usually a door and a window; and a clear path to an outside meeting place that's a safe distance from the home.

Investigators are unsure of an exact cause of the fire right now, but the State Fire Marshal says it started on the back deck.


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