Highland Township woman refuses to leave burning house with $10K in exotic pets

·2 min read
Firefighters check a hose as fire guts a $350K house in Highland Township early Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021 while a woman is trapped in the basement, refusing to leave her exotic pets. (Photo: Oakland County Sheriff's Office)
Firefighters check a hose as fire guts a $350K house in Highland Township early Thursday, Nov. 25, 2021 while a woman is trapped in the basement, refusing to leave her exotic pets. (Photo: Oakland County Sheriff's Office)

Three family members had escaped to safety from their burning north Oakland County house but a woman refused to leave the blaze because she was concerned about $10,000 worth of exotic pets in the basement, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office.

The 41-year-old woman became trapped in her basement with the pets, which included birds and ferrets, the Sheriff’s Office said. As the house became fully engulfed in flames, the only exit from the basement — through the garage, where the fire started — became a wall of flames, according to a news release and photos from the Sheriff’s Office.

At that point, county deputies arrived, only to learn that the woman was in the basement but refusing to leave, the release said. The deputies then broke out a small basement access window and talked her into letting them pull her out by the wrists early Thursday, according to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard.

They “quickly assessed the situation (and) pulled her to safety, despite her reluctance to leave. We were able to save a few of the animals but more importantly, this woman is alive today and a Thanksgiving Day tragedy was avoided,” Bouchard said in the release.

The woman and three other residents of the house, on Milford Road between White Lake and Chana roads, were taken to Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc, where they were treated for smoke inhalation. Emergency responders also rescued a pig and three dogs.

The contemporary brick house, valued at about $350,000, was a total loss, the release said. The fire likely started when one of the family dogs knocked over a heater in the garage, which caught a bed of straw on fire, after which flames spread to the home's living areas, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Contact: blaitner@freepress.com

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Highland Township woman refuses to leave burning house with exotic pets