MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Stillwater family is safe after a terrifying afternoon.

Their home burst into flames Monday while their three children were inside. The 14, 13 and 6 year olds all got out safely with help from a man who happened to be in the area.

Josh Thron started his landscape business from the ground up. He and his mother came up with the name, “A Helping Hand.” He used those hands Monday in a way he never imagined.

“It was emotional for sure. A little shaky, your heart was pounding,” Thron said.

Josh Thron (credit: CBS)

By chance, Thron and his partner decided to change their lawn care route at the last minute and focus on Greely Street. A 14-year-old girl ran down the street saying her house was on fire.

“The flames were shooting out of the side of this back window,” Thron said.

He says he kicked down a board, helping the two kids inside to safety.

“I could hear her crying. I just picked her up and the boy was right behind me and grabbed the back of my shirt, and we kind of ran out to across the street where it was safe,” he said.

(credit: CBS)

The children’s mother, Lindsay Belland, pulled up moments later.

“I ran into Laralei, my youngest. She has some different, atypical special needs and she was overwhelmed, and the kids were overwhelmed and I just hugged them,” Belland said.

She says she had only been gone for minutes when the flames erupted. She is not sure how it started. She says she has lost so much, but gained appreciation.

“I’m thankful to Josh and the crew for being the adults around them my daughter could run to,” Belland said. “I’m so proud of my kids for following our fire drills and for getting themselves out of the house.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield