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10-year-old Duluth boy saves family from burning home

Spencer Stroschein (center) saved his brothers Slayton (right) and Weston (left) and his parents by alerting them to a fire that was spreading through their Alborn Township home early Tuesday morning. Derek Montgomery/Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH - Wearing a newly acquired charm of Saint Christopher, 10-year-old Spencer Stroschein shyly described his role in getting his family out of their Alborn Township home before it went up in flames early Tuesday morning.

Stroschein, a fifth-grader, was sleeping in the den when he awoke to flames coming through the wood floor about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. He quickly rose and alerted the four other members of his family.

"Everybody got out in a minute," Stroschein said. "If it would have been another 45 seconds or a minute, we wouldn't be here today."

Stroschein usually sleeps in his basement bedroom, but he failed to clean stuff off his bed and opted for the den instead. The family has smoke alarms -- father Brady Stroschein is an Alborn volunteer firefighter -- but the fire didn't initially create any smoke.

Instead, Spencer served as the fire alarm.

"He got up and he opened the door and he ran and got up my husband, myself and his two little brothers [Weston, 5, and Slayton, 4],'' said Dana Stroschein, Spencer's mother. "He was the one yelling 'fire, fire, fire!' "

She said her husband turned back to get the family puppy, but he couldn't get back inside because of heat and smoke.

"If Spencer hadn't have gotten us up, we wouldn't have gotten outside,'' Dana said. "We literally had a minute to spare. My husband, who is a volunteer firefighter, said people don't wake up in these kinds of fires."

After the fire, Brady Stroschein went to their insurance company early Tuesday morning. As a woman who works at the insurance company arrived at the office and climbed out of her car, her necklace and charm of Saint Christopher fell on the ground. She saw it as a sign and gave it to Spencer.

Spencer said the images of the fire are ingrained in his mind.

"It's gonna be pretty hard to get that picture out, of 6-foot flames, 10 feet away from me," Spencer said.

The home was a total loss and the family lost most of its belongings. They were staying in a motel Wednesday, with hopes of soon setting up a mobile home in Alborn. A fund to support the family was set up at Wells Fargo.

Dana said the Alborn, Grand Lake and Meadowlands volunteer fire departments all responded to the fire.

She said the loss of the family's 11-week-old yellow Lab, Marlee, is tough on the boys, but the family has a lot to be thankful for.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.