DALLAS - Three men helped get nine people out of a burning house in the Lake Highlands neighborhood of Dallas.
The men were painting a fence across the street from the home on Larchwood Drive in East Dallas when they spotted smoke around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The men knocked on the door and found a woman inside with her 93-year-old grandmother and seven children. The men helped them all escape.
The family did not even know the house was on fire.
“I could smell it and it was real small at first. And then it spread to the shed and then went to the fence and started to catch the whole house on fire,” said Weston Donley, who helped rescue the family.
“It kept getting bigger and bigger. And then we opened up the door and yelled at them telling them there’s a fire and they were yelling and stuff but we got everyone out,” added Jason Williamson.
The elderly woman and two firefighters were taken to hospitals as a precaution. They are now okay.
The children were all between 1 and 11 years old. Several attend Lake Highlands Elementary School and the school's PTA is collecting donations for the family on campus through Friday.
"I'm not surprised, but it still blows me away just how quickly people respond and how on top of it they are and just how much stuff we've already gotten is just truly amazing,” said principal Becky Stevens.
The vast majority of those donating items are complete strangers to the family.
“we heard from some of the guys that are in the exchange club that there's a family in dire need and anyone that can help out with clothes and stuff and we had that and that's just what this community does,” said Bill Boyd, who lives nearby.
Bags of shoes, clothing, diapers and more than a thousand dollars in gift cards have been donated so far.
Firefighters were able to save their home but it was significantly damaged. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The Red Cross is providing a place to stay for the family.