Frankfort Square man saves neighbor’s house from blaze
By Ginger Brashinger Correspondent May 26, 2012 8:34PM
Keith Donaubauer stands with neighbor Avis Smith-Rud on Saturday after helping extinguish a blaze at her home in Frankfort Square. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 26, 2012 1:44AM
Keith Donaubauer found a new use for his swimming pool Saturday afternoon when his neighbor’s wooden deck caught on fire in the 20200 block of Rosewood Court in Frankfort Square.
Donabauer, 38, ran to Avis Smith-Rud’s back yard when his mother-in-law, Minnie McKee, yelled that the neighbor’s deck was on fire.
McKee started banging on the door while Donabauer ran to the back of the house to use Smith-Rud’s garden hose, but he found it burning.
“I just started grabbing five-gallon buckets of pool water,” Donabauer said. “The way it was going, I never thought it would put it out. It was going up the side of the house.”
Frankfort Fire District Battalion Chief Nick Peters said Donabauer’s actions were the difference between Smith-Rud losing a deck rather than an entire house.
“He (Donaubauer) saved the fire from getting into the house. That’s 100 percent correct,” Peters said.
Peters said the cause of the fire was unknown.
“We’re just looking into it more now since no one was home at the time,” Peters said. Smith-Rud said she thought a 22-year-old male domestic helper may have been responsible for the blaze.
“No one’s allowed to smoke in my house because I’m asthmatic,” Smith-Rud said. “My son is informing me that (the domestic helper) went outside to have a cigarette and possibly didn’t put it out correctly.”
Smith-Rud’s son, Tommy Nowicki, 31, arrived home to find the fire vehicles in his court. He said he was not home when the fire started.
Firefighters enlisted Donabauer’s help to check on the family dogs: Bruno, a Rhodesian ridgeback, and Hester, a Boxer mix, who were locked in a family room, barking but unharmed.
“I don’t know how I’m ever going to pay them back,” Smith-Rud said.
“Any decent human being would have done the same thing,” Donabauer said.