Pet dog saves family of six in north central Minnesota from house fire


The 5-year-old mutt saved the lives of the six Haegemans by alerting them to a house fire.

Devin and Hannah Haegeman and their four children – Emily, age 9; Maddox, 4; Daniel, 2, and Marcella, 4 months – were woken up at 5 a.m. on December 22.

In less than 10 minutes, the fire ravaged one end of the mobile home. Devin says he couldn’t have reached his boys’ room. Contribution / Devin Haegeman

“My daughter, whose room is right next to ours, was screaming because the dog woke her up. Our bedroom door is usually open and Gracie is sleeping in our bedroom, but we closed her that night and she woke our three kids before I even knew the house was on fire, ”Devin said.

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They were woken up “by a thick smoke which floated in the house”.

“It was foggy in my room and it smelled good. It smelled like hot wood, even like a campfire. I build furniture and it smelled like warm wood sitting next to a heater, ”Devin said. “And then I opened my door and I just couldn’t see. So I yelled at my wife.

Hannah was in bed with their baby, Marcella. Emily was already in the hallway, according to Devin. Hannah led the two girls out of the house.

“I went to get the boys. The younger boy had fallen asleep in the living room. I didn’t see him, but I did meet him in the living room, ”Devin recalls. He put Daniel on the porch, where Hannah could reach him.

“I ran to the end of the house where my 4 year old was sleeping. He was also out of bed, trying to find his way, ”Devin said.

They’ve been renting the single trailer behind Crow Wing Inn for about a year and a half.

The Haegemans believe the fire may have started in the laundry room – and spread quickly.

Hannah Haegeman examines the fire damage to the family laundry room.

Hannah Haegeman examines the fire damage to the family laundry room. Contribution / Devin Haegeman

“After I took the kids out I went out and couldn’t find the dog,” Devin said. “So I went back to grab him, which was a bit difficult. She was terrified.

Gracie was hiding under a bed and Devin had to drag her outside. He was able to transport “the hairiest Haegeman” to safety.

Gracie is believed to be part of the Labrador and the Border Collie. The Haegensons had taken her in for another family member, but ended up adopting her.

“It’s really good that we did,” Devin said.

In his mind, Devin says he keeps repeating the timeline. “At 5 o’clock, on the nose is when my daughter says the dog woke her up. I woke up. My clock read 5:01 am The call to 911 reads 5:02 am By 5:06 am everyone was out of the house and at 5:08 am when the fire department arrived the wall in the laundry room. fell. extinguished, and the fire broke out.

It was not an explosion, he said, but when the wall collapsed, the back door exploded and flames started to erupt.

“It was moments. It was to the point that as soon as that happened, less than 10 minutes after we left our house, I wouldn’t have been able to join my son, ”Devin said.

He wrote: “The laundry room was completely engulfed, flames were bursting into the sky and any chance of gaining access to the boys’ room was absolutely lost.”

They escaped with only a minute or two to spare.

Nevis Fire and Rescue answered the call. They were assisted by the East Hubbard County Fire Department, North Memorial Health, and the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office.

Firefighters arrived quickly, Devin said, and they were “on point.” The family curled up in their van.

In his Facebook post, Devin wrote, “We expect complete and utter loss. We are fine ? No, but we’re safe.

A solid third of the house is in ashes, completely destroyed, he estimates. “If we manage to save footage, we’ll be lucky. “

Devin says that “a little CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning was worth saving Gracie,” adding “we can never pay back what she did for us” that day.

He describes Gracie as sweet, kind and bright.

“I don’t know who gives dogs medals for being superheroes, but send them to me,” he wrote on Facebook. “She’s going to need a proper visit to the groomer right away to get the sooty smell off, but she’s having a warm bed with her family tonight.”

The children were taken to hospital by ambulance for examination. Everyone is well.

“Of course I waited and drove myself. The doctor yelled at me because I’m the only one sick, ”Devin said. He was given oxygen for a few hours.

“The house is gone and our things are gone, but my home is safe and warm and perfectly intact,” Devin wrote on Facebook.

“We will have to start from scratch, but it could be a lot worse,” he said.

Although they do not have rental insurance, the couple teach harbor licensing courses through their company, Danger Tactical, LLP. Since the house was also the office, he expects the company’s insurance to cover some expenses.

This photo of Hannah and Devin Haegeman was taken in June 2020.

This photo of Hannah and Devin Haegeman was taken in June 2020.Contribution / Devin Haegeman

Due to health issues, Devin is currently on disability. He is working with insurance companies to replace his destroyed drugs.

Devin served seven years in the National Guard, while Hannah remains enlisted after six years.

“We have tons of military resources that have been deployed,” he said.

The Legion and VFW have been in contact with the family, as have MAHUBE-OTWA and the Red Cross.

The Haegemans stay free at the Crow Wing Inn.

On Wednesday night, the kids were in their pajamas, tucked away with new blankets and new stuffed animals.

Maddox, Devin and Emily posed for this pic in June 2020.

Maddox, Devin and Emily posed for this pic in June 2020.Contribution / Devin Haegeman

“Our loss is devastating, but the outpouring of love we have received over the past 17 hours is beyond what I expected,” Devin said on Facebook. “I spent a very long time today wondering how I was going to rebuild an entire life for my family with literally nothing. Not to mention the damage caused by the trauma alone.

When Devin was younger than Emily, her family suffered a complete loss of their home and belongings to a fire. With fewer resources, Devin said his parents were able to recover.

“So we’ll do it now,” he wrote.

During the 36 hours following the fire, clothing, pull-ups and diapers were donated. The Haegemans received a dozen bags of clothing in their hotel room, and more at their in-laws. Hannah’s family is from the Nevis-Akeley region.

They need shoes and winter gear, but living space is currently limited. “The gift cards are a godsend,” Devin said.

Devin’s brother and brother’s girlfriend have created a GoFundMe account for the family at As of Saturday, $ 19,000 of the $ 20,000 goal was raised.

The Haegemans are looking for a four- or five-bedroom house.

“My daughter asked me today if she should clean her room again,” Devin said Thursday.

A scene from the Haegeman's living room, following the fire on December 22.  It was there that 2-year-old Daniel fell asleep.

A scene from the Haegeman’s living room, following the fire on December 22. It was there that 2-year-old Daniel fell asleep. Contribution / Devin Haegeman

On Thursday Devin wrote: “This Christmas may be less traditional, but it’s the start of something new. I promise that we will start our new traditions today and not get used to the events of yesterday. The children don’t have a tree, but Grandma and Grandpa do, and they are happy to share.


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