ELLISVILLE, MO – An Ellisville couple was reunited Monday (Dec. 17) with the first responders who rescued them from their home after a fire started in the kitchen.
Dec. 9 started like any other Sunday morning. Peggy Cruse was in the kitchen, and her husband, Bill, was still in bed.
Peggy put a cherry Pop-Tart in the toaster. While it was cooking, she noticed the Pop-Tart broke in half and the middle was exposed. She unplugged the toaster.
"Even though I unplugged it, it started smoking," she said.
Peggy grabbed a pan to try to smother the smoke, but before she knew it there were flames.
"The flames went all the way to the ceiling, and I stood there, and I looked at it, and I thought 'Oh, what do I do now?'"
Peggy knew she needed to get Bill, who is disabled, out of the home quickly so she called for help.
"I never knew if I made the right decision, but I made the decision to call 911 and to go get him," said Cruse.
Battalion Chief Joe Haefer with the Metro West Fire Protection District said kitchen fires are common but should be taken seriously. Fires can double in size every 60 seconds, he said.
"I think the number one thing that really worked in their favor was she decided to call 911 right away," said Haefer.
Within minutes of calling for help, two Ellisville police officers were at the Cruses' front door.
"One of the residents, she was frantic saying her husband was in the back, and she was looking for a cat," said Corporal Travis Detring.
Peggy did not want to leave the house without her cat, Peanut Buddy Cruse.
"We call him Buddy," she said.
While Peggy searched for Buddy, the officers went to the bedroom to help Bill.
"I see Travis is holding him up, and I see he has a walker so I assume that he is not able to get out on his own so I just go straight for his legs and make the call, 'We gotta go now,'" said Ofc. Christopher Annis.
While helping Bill out of the house, Detring’s body cam fell off. It captured the room filling with black smoke quickly.
As the officers rushed the Cruses' to safety, they were relieved to see the team from Metro West headed into the house to put out the flames.
Peggy said their kitchen is destroyed, there is damage to the living room, and there is smoke damage throughout the house.
Fortunately, their daughter found Buddy.
"I was so worried about my kitty, but she found my kitty, and he's okay."
Bill and Peggy have been together for 63 years. They have lived in their Ellisville home since 1957 and raised their three children there.
They said they have never had anything like this happen in their home, but they are so grateful their first responders were there when they needed them.
"They did a good job," said Bill.
"What would we have done without them?" wonders Peggy. "The house probably wouldn't be here, and who knows, we might not be either."
"It was a good team win," said Detring.
The Cruses are living in temporary housing for the next few months while insurance claims are filed and their home is repaired. They say they could use some rental furniture to help them while they are in temporary housing.