Mason Stimatze woke up to use the bathroom early Saturday morning and heard flames crackling in his living room.
The fire had already grown enough to block the path to his parents’ room, so the 10-year-old ran outside. He started pounding on his parents’ bedroom window to wake them up and get them out. Nathan, his father, broke the window, got himself and Sabrina Hazen, Mason’s mother, out of the room. Then they ran to the bedroom window of Kaylie, 8, and William, 5, to get them out.
The Hyalite Fire Department responded to the fire in King Arthur Park around 7 a.m. and knocked it down about an hour later. Aside from Kaylie getting six stitches, Hazen said the family was uninjured and the fire was contained.
And she and her husband credited their son with saving their lives.
“He’s a hero — that’s for sure,” Hazen said. “I don’t know too many 10-year-olds who would have taken action and proved his leadership skills like he did.”
“If it wasn’t for him getting us up and making sure that we were aware that the house was on fire, … we wouldn’t have been able to take action as fast as we were to get everybody out safely,” Nathan said.
The three returned to their home Monday to pick through debris and see what they could salvage. The house still smelled of fire as they rummaged through the ash.
Hazen said she couldn’t stand being inside it for five minutes because it was hard to see. Nathan said the family lost about 90% of their belongings. After the incident, he said, he opened the refrigerator and laundry machines to find the rubber insulation saved some of their belongings.
“It wasn’t a complete loss, but there’s not much that we’re going to be able to save,” Nathan said.
Mason said he lost a crate of basketballs and footballs in the fire. He also lost a PlayStation game, “Kingdom Hearts,” and a football signed by the Montana State University football team.
And some things that are irreplaceable.
“I was actually quite sad because they weren’t able to get our dogs out,” Mason said, standing in front of his home’s window Monday. The family’s year-and-a-half-old coonhound Hercules and their 3-year-old pug Budda did not survive.
Nathan’s brother created a GoFundMe page the day the fire happened to recover some of the family’s things, pay for demolishing what’s left of the home and start over. As of Monday evening, the family had raised $2,450.
“It’s amazing how something like this can bring so many people together for the same cause — to help a family that has gone through so much in one incident,” Nathan said.