9-year-old Rose Hill girl alerts family of fire

A 9-year-old Rose Hill girl in tune with her nightlight may have saved her family Thursday morning.

A fire that started in the furnace crept into the walls and caused the lights to go out around 4:30 a.m. Nora Bieler said her granddaughter woke up and yelled “mommy my light’s out.” Amber Bieler woke at her daughter’s plea, smelled smoke and went to investigate.

She saw the fire reflecting off the downstairs wall and had Adalynn help corral her younger siblings: 5-year-old Dalice and 3-year-old Tobias. Their father, Nathan, was at work.

Amber and the children ran out of the house and went to the neighbor’s house. Amber went back to open the door, hoping their three dogs and two cats would run out.

None of them did.

First responders arrived at the townhouse on Ridgeway Road. The fire had spread to the walls and ceiling below the bedrooms, according to Butler County Fire District No. 3 Chief James Woydziak. Firefighters were able to remove the family’s unconscious German Shepard, Axel, from near the furnace.

A Butler County EMS used two oxygen bottles to help Axel breath. It worked. A veterinarian gave a good prognosis for Axel, Woydziak said.

But the other animals didn’t make it.

“Thank God they’re all alive and that is the most important thing,” Nora Bieler said. “Life is more important than pets or things.”

Woydziak estimated $160,000 worth of damage to the structure and another $40,000 for their belongings. He believes the home is a complete loss. The cause of the fire is undetermined but believed to be accidental. Nora said the furnace was running when the fire started.

The family is being assisted by the American Red Cross. The Bieler’s church, Wichita First United Pentecostal, agreed to help take donations while the family sets up an account for donations.

The church can be reached at 316-529-0600.

Michael Stavola covers breaking news at The Wichita Eagle. He’s won a national and several state awards during his five years of working at newspapers in Kansas. He plans to finish his MBA at Wichita State University in spring 2020. Michael likes to exercise, hunt and spend time with his wife and their dog, Marley.