Girl helps rescue family in Anchorage mobile-home fire

Heroic 11-year-old, though hurt, runs into flaming trailer to rescue 5-year-old girl

Posted: Wednesday, June 01, 2005

ANCHORAGE - An 11-year-old girl's hands and feet were burned, but she helped save a family in a mobile home fire.

Breanne Gaines and Kimberlee Dresnek, both 11, were sleeping in a tent on a small porch outside the kitchen door of the Dresneks' trailer when they heard Kimberlee's mother scream at about 5 a.m. Monday.

The trailer was on fire and so was the tent.

Breanne remembers crying and being frightened. But, she said later, her thoughts were about Kimberlee and Kimberlee's 5-year-old sister, Brianna, who was still in the home.

The nearby kitchen door was the only unlocked door to the home, but when Breanne got out of the tent, the door was engulfed in fire, she said.

She said she and Kimberlee pounded on the trailer's other locked doors for what seemed like forever. Kimberlee's mother, Tonya Dresnek, opened one but seemed unresponsive.

Breanne ran back to Brianna's bedroom and grabbed the 5-year-old. She pulled Brianna's shirt over Brianna's mouth and nose so she wouldn't breathe in the smoke, pointed her to the door and told her to run outside. Brianna made it out unhurt.

"I knew God wouldn't let anything happen to me," Breanne said.

Breanne ran to neighbors to call for help. Tonya Dresnek also escaped when firefighters arrived.

"Gaines made sure everyone got out safely," said Kelly Hurd with Red Cross. "She was a little hero."

Two people were taken to a hospital with injuries, but Fire Department spokesman Tom Kempton couldn't say who.

Breanne's father, Randy Gaines, said both Breanne and Kimberlee had been in the hospital. Like Breanne, Kimberlee suffered burns on her feet and hands from the flaming tent.

Relatives were watching her and 5-year-old Brianna, and both girls are doing fine, said Meri Stewart, an aunt.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, the Anchorage Fire Department said. The trailer was estimated at a $50,000 loss.

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