Airmen recognized for saving pets from apartment fire

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Hailey Staker
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The day started with an attempt to go rock climbing, but with a storm rolling in, they turned around and headed into town. As they drove along, they noticed smoke from an apartment fire billowing into the air.

"We thought we'd watch the firefighters battle the fire and film it with my phone and [my friend's] camera," said Airman 1st Class Grant Krause, 28th Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller.

Only there were no firefighters.

Krause and Senior Airman Spencer Butler, 28th OSS air traffic controller, spoke briefly with two other individuals before making the split decision to jump into action. The additional men assisted the Airmen and began banging on and kicking in doors of apartments rumored to have people or pets inside.

"Spencer went and kicked in the door, rescuing the corgi [in the video]," Krause said. "I was with the other two guys and we went into an apartment and found two dogs in kennels. I opened one, thinking the dog would either realize something was wrong and run out, or be friendly and let me pick him up and carry him out."

The poodle in the open kennel started barking and trying to bite Krause, who decided to move on until he could determine what to do, handing the other kennel to one of the men helping him. After grabbing the poodle with a towel, they were able to get the two dogs out of the building and meet back up with Butler to continue their search.

During the ordeal, Butler and Krause remained focused on helping, but recognized the danger and moved quickly to assist apartment complex residents. 

"Briefly, before I kicked in that first door, I thought that if it were my pet, I would - in a heartbeat - kick down the door," Butler said.

In an attempt to inspire others to help out, Butler uploaded footage to media-sharing sites.

"I figured people would find the video interesting and motivating," Butler said. "I wanted people to have something they'd want to emulate so they're never a passive bystander. I didn't want to come across as arrogant, so I sought the anonymity of [Reddit], not realizing I uploaded the video through my personal Youtube page."

More than five national and local news agencies picked up Butler and Krause's story, giving them a chance to shed light on a more pressing issue - helping the victims of the fire.

"[The extra attention] is cool for the first night, and then it is pretty exhausting mentally and physically," Butler said. "We've [received] phone calls, and emails, and a media distribution company that handles viral videos contacted me and is hunting down the video and making sure [its] copyright[s] are handled."

The attention has spurred others to help, leading to donations to aid those affected by the fire.

Krause and Butler sought the services of a local bank and to set up an account where the money would be deposited.

"[We] wanted to utilize this... to get people to help the victims of the fire," Butler said.

While the day did not go the way they had originally planned, the events that unfolded have left a lasting impression on the pair.