MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Southern Minnesota family is counting its blessings this Mother’s Day weekend for a tiny hero.
Early Wednesday morning, a fire started at the Meeks-Radke home in Emmons, Minn., just outside Albert Lea.
Samantha Meeks says if it hadn’t been for her 10-month-old daughter, Khalette Meeks-Radke, her family wouldn’t have made it out alive.
“If I wouldn’t have woken up to her, or if I wouldn’t have cried in time, we’d all be dead,” she said. “We had an angel, that’s for sure.”
The Meeks family recently moved into her boyfriend’s mother’s house, and now the Meeks must begin all over again.
“You can’t put a price on memories…and that’s a lot of stuff that we lost,” Meeks said.
She remembers waking to her daughter, who cried like never before.
“She had crawled into the corner of her bed, sitting up, and her screams were really scratchy, really loud,” Meeks said.
Meeks realized hot ashes fell from the ceiling into her baby’s crib, coming from the baby’s grandmother’s bedroom directly upstairs.
“Everything just started coming down and started burning,” Meeks said.
Meeks grabbed her two daughters. Her boyfriend, Anthony Radke, rushed his mother, Deb Radke, out just in time. And that’s when the family remembered Deb Radke’s oxygen tanks were left in the house.
Seconds later, one of those tanks exploded, and the force shattered windows. The family was only able to salvage a little clothing, which they aren’t sure is even safe to wear due to the heavy smoke damage.
The house is a total loss, and Deb Radke didn’t have insurance on her home, Meeks said.
“Immediately I thought about the kids, I knew I had to do something,” said family friend Jacqui Spriggs, who held a donation drive for the family Saturday. Spriggs is also a mom who has also experienced the devastation of a house fire.
She started a Facebook group to collect donations of furniture and clothing for the family. A link to that group can be found here.
“Someone was watching over them that day,” Spriggs said. “I just hope the kids can bounce back from it and not be too affected.”
The family is now focusing on what can be replaced.
Firefighters aren’t sure what caused the fire, but the family suspects the baby’s grandmother either fell asleep smoking, or had a problem with her oxygen tank.
The family has smoke detectors, but they don’t remember hearing them.