CONRAD - A woman awoke to smoke in her home in Conrad as around 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 20.
What firefighters believe started as a spark from a space heater in the basement quickly developed into a full-fledged fire that engulfed the entire house.
“I fumbled for my phone, and turned my flashlight on and all I could see was smoke,” recalled Nichole Mosley, “All I could do was start yelling, ‘The house is on fire! Everybody get up, get out!’”
In nothing but their pajamas, barefoot, the family evacuated the house out into the bitter -20° night. They quickly realized somebody was missing — Nichole’s 16-year-old son Donnie.
“We couldn’t get to him because the smoke was so bad,” said Mosley. “It went to complete panic, because I didn’t know if my son was going to come out of there.”
That’s when Mike Behafarid, a former combat veteran, jumped into action. He had been staying at the home while he looked for a place of his own.
He ran into the home in search of Nichole’s son, who was trapped upstairs, and the family dogs.
“I ran upstairs, it was dark and smoky, and I yelled ‘Follow my voice!’ I found him and we led each other out through the side entrance.”
For Behafarid, the thought of whether to enter the burning building or not didn’t cross his mind, "that’s the way I’ve been conditioned as a soldier, if someone needs help, you do it."
His rescue mission came at a cost to his health as he was hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning and sustained frostbite blisters to both feet, having done all of this bare-footed, but that’s the least of his concerns.
“Important thing is just that all of us are alive, that’s the big deal,” says Behafarid.
The family lost everything in the fire including their Christmas presents which the kids had been looking forward to opening. Fortunately, the town of Conrad came together to provide a proper Christmas for the displaced family.
“The town of Conrad has been absolutely amazing to us,” says Mosley. “They’ve helped us with so much. They provided a Christmas for my kids.”
Though the Christmas spirit endured, Nichole’s children and grandchildren are still getting over the traumatic event. “None of us have slept much the past few days, my nine-year-old will stay up all night until someone wakes up in the morning, then she goes to bed,” says Mosley. “My little guy thinks that a monster came and destroyed our house, and now we can’t go back.”
Lindsey Jansen created a GoFundMe to help the family recover; it reads, in part: "My sister in law Nichole Mosley, just lost her house 5 days before Christmas to a fire. They were woken up to smoke and left the house with only the clothes on their back. The temperature right now is -19° and they have nothing, some of them don’t even have shoes."
Click here if you would like to help the family.