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Mother, father save children while Livingston County home burns

Mother, father save children while Livingston County home burns
Mother, father save children while Livingston County home burns 02:28

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - A Metro Detroit family is feeling extremely grateful after everyone made it out of the home safely following a serious fire.

For a family of nine in Livingston County, their recovery process is just beginning after a fire scorched their home. 

"Never being involved in a fire I knew if we weren't out of there within thirty seconds, we were dead," Lindsay Rowe told CBS News Detroit.

AJ and Lindsay Rowe were living in their dream home along with their family for over two years. At about 3 a.m. on Monday, that all changed when a fire started on the family's first floor.

"He (AJ) just yelled 'Fire.' My only thought was kids. So I opened our bedroom door and the thickest black smoke came pouring in our room," Lindsay Rowe said.

As AJ Rowe figures out an exit plan, Lindsay Rowe makes her way down the hallway tallying up their kids. With six kids under the age of 13 in the home at the time, it became a battle to escape.

"I just started running… It's powerful too and you are half asleep. It was just the wildest experience," the couple said.

The family says the smoke prevented them from going downstairs and leaving. That's when they broke a second-floor window. After making their way onto the roof, they realized one child was still inside. 

AJ Rowe, who is a Marine veteran, went back into the house to gather the remaining child inside. Lindsay Rowe tells says she knew when her husband went back into the home, she may never see him again.

One child had already dialed 911, and AJ Rowe recalled the operator telling him to stay outside. Using his military training and last bit of energy, he was able to get to their son's room and open his window.

"I was at that point when you're underwater and you're trying to surface to the top but you don't know if you're gonna make it," he said.

After helping get their sixth child out of the window, Lindsay Rowe proceeds to jump down and begins helping the remaining children stuck on the roof down. Within less than 15 minutes, first responders were on the way to their home. 

The family didn't sustain many injuries. One child did break their foot from jumping from the roof. Others sustained minor bruises. AJ Rowe currently has a cough from the smoke inhalation.

"We had seven rooms in that hospital," the couple said.

Since the fire, there's been a huge outreach of support. A GoFundMe was created and more than $150,000 has been raised. The Rowes own a local woodworking business, and the outreach of support is something the family would've never expected.

"There's really not enough you can say...I think I've cried more about the support of the community than I have about the fire," Lindsey Rowe said.

The family has stayed with relatives since the fire. The Rowe's say the owner of a local car dealership offered to allow them to use their spare home. The owner also provided them with a set of wheels until they get back on their feet.

The family says fire investigators don't suspect foul play, but it's unclear how the fire exactly started in their home. 

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