STILLWATER, Minn.-Josh Thron, the owner of A Helping Hand Yard Maintenance in Stillwater, has proved that his business is aptly named.
Thron was mowing a client's lawn on North Greeley Street on Monday morning when a 14-year-old girl ran up to him saying that she needed his help. She had been baking cookies, she said, and the oven at her house was smoking. Her little sister and brother were in the house.
Thron ran to 111 Greeley, just two houses north of where he had been mowing, and found thick black smoke pouring from the back of the now-burning house, he said.
"I kicked down the fence door and opened up the back door, yelling 'Anyone in here? Anyone in here?'" he said. "I couldn't see, really; I just kind of felt for her. When I found her, I grabbed her and picked her up. I could feel someone else bump against my back, sort of behind me, so I told him to run and follow me."
After Thron got the 6-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy out of the house, he called 911 to report the fire. No one was injured, he said.
"I was in the right place at the right time," Thron said. "It was a miracle, that's for sure. If that girl hadn't come out and grabbed my attention, no one would have made it. The flames were so hot, and there was thick black smoke all around. Thank God they were right there. I don't know how much further I could have even gotten in. I got in, like, 10 feet into the house."
Mayor Ted Kozlowski hailed Thron, 30, who lives in Stillwater.
"What he did was absolutely heroic," Kozlowski said. "He was definitely at the right place at the right time. These fires happen quick. We're really happy he was there and able to get in and get everybody out safe."
Thron said the 14-year-old girl should be commended for her quick actions.
"She did such a good job. If she hadn't gotten my attention, this would have been a tragedy," he said.
Thron and his employee, Zach Murtley, were recently hired to cut the lawn at the house at the corner of Myrtle and Greeley streets.
"It's funny. We were going to go cut two different yards first, but for some reason, we decided to go a different way," he said. "We should have been on Third Street on the South Hill, but something just seemed like it made us go that way."
The fire remains under investigation.