Kila man saves family from house fire


Kila man saves family from house fire

KALISPELL, Mont. - A Kila woman and her son are hoping for donations, after their home went up in flames.

Chris Irlbeck was driving by the house and alerted the two, who were inside before the house caught fire.

"You've got to listen to that still small voice every once in a while," said Irlbeck.

Every day for the last 20 years Irlbeck has traveled Smith Lake Road from his Kila home on his drive to work. But on Thursday morning he says he noticed something different at the bottom of the hill.

"I see an orange glow up on the hillside here, coming up the road, and it just didn't look quite normal," said Irlbeck.

Irlbeck pulled up to the house and saw flames crawling up the back side of the house. He wasn't sure if anyone was home, so he began to pound on the door.

"I opened the door, after I was pounding on it.  I opened the door and started to yell," said Irlbeck.

He eventually heard a woman yell back. She grabbed her son and they got out safely.

"It was very nerv wracking.  I don't know the inside of the house, I don't know the layout," said Irlbeck.  "There's a lot of smoke in there and it's like, where do you go?"

Five fire crews responded to the fire. Smith Valley Fire Department was the first on the scene.

Chief D.C. Haas tells NBC Montana it didn't take long for the house to be fully engulfed in flames.

"If Chris didn't stop I'm sure it would be jut a horrible story today.  It is in fact a loss of a home, but Chris did save those two individuals' lives without a doubt."

But Irlbeck doesn't consider himself a hero.

"What's a hero?  A hero is someone who does something that needs to be done when it needs to be done.  A hero?  No."

Haas says they don't know what caused the fire.

Now the family that lost their home is looking for clothing donations to get them through a difficult time. Mary, a family contact of the victims, is taking donations. You can contact her at 406-257-7836.

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