‘Hero’ son wakes family before blaze consumes Otsego Twp. home
Devin McKinnon knows his son is a hero, and it’s easy to see why.
When their family home on 105th Avenue east of 22nd Street caught fire Friday, March 10, his younger son quickly roused his older brother and mother from sleep and got them outside before the house was engulfed with smoke and flames.
“I wouldn’t have my family today without him; he really saved the day,” McKinnon said.
McKinnon had run out for about 10 minutes to stop at a grocery store when he got a call from his son saying what had happened.
“I obviously turned around and went back out there,” McKinnon said. “As soon as I came over the hill there, I saw the smoke. I knew it was bad; my heart just dropped. As I got there, the whole back of the house was burning and my family was there standing there outside.”
Otsego Fire Chief Brandon Weber said dispatch was called at 4:48 p.m. and the home was fully involved with the fire even before 911 was called.
Weber said, “The son apparently heard a snap, crackle and a huge whoosh of air, looked out the window from the second floor and saw fire rolling up the side of the house.
“The home is basically a complete loss,” he said. “Because of the extent of the damage, we couldn’t pinpoint the cause. It appears to be purely accidental at this point in time and our investigation is closed.”
Allegan, Alamo, Gobles, Pine Grove and Gun Plain Township fire departments all assisted on the scene, hampered by the cold and wind, which contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.
McKinnon said his son, a freshman at Otsego High School, told him he’d been playing video games in his room on the second floor of the former farm house, built in 1856. The family bought the home five years ago. He ran across the hall in his boxer shorts to wake his brother an OHS senior, who was napping.
“While his brother grabbed some clothes, (the younger son) went downstairs and woke up my wife, who works third shift and she was sleeping also,” he said. “They ran out of house; no one even had shoes on.”
He said they called 911 and then McKinnon.
He said, “The firemen said that a matter of a minute or two longer and there would’ve been no one making it out of the house.
“He told me he remembered what I’d told him—not to grab anything, just get out. I guess the though crossed his mind to go grab his Playstation 4, but luckily he didn’t. Any other way, and none of them would’ve made it.
“It’s really a miracle.”
No one was injured in the fire, though the family lost two indoor cats in the blaze; four barnyard cats were unharmed.
McKinnon, a Martin High School graduate who also attended Allegan High School, thanked the firefighters for their work as well as the Red Cross volunteers who were on site immediately to provide blankets and water.
“They helped calm me down. They stepped up and were right there. They helped me call the insurance company that night and set up a claim,” he said. “They actually had a debit card they gave us and put a little on there for us so buy clothes and shoes.”
He said the Red Cross had arranged for them to be housed temporarily at a local hotel.
“A bunch of groups have helped out; everyone’s been really supportive, bringing clothes,” he said.
McKinnon said he couldn’t stress enough how important it was for youth to take to heart what to do in emergencies like this—to know where to exit the home and not to waste any time getting outside.
“In this instance, it meant a life-saving situation; my son did exactly what he was taught and it saved lives,” he said.
Contact Ryan Lewis at email@example.com or (269) 673-5534.