Updated: 10/11/2013 7:13 AM
Created: 10/10/2013 5:54 PM KSTP.com
By: Katherine Johnson
Nine-year-old Douglas and his 7-year-old brother, Dominyck, know the rules when it comes to safety.
"The roof was on fire, the sides were on fire," Dominyck said.
Just a few weeks ago, the brothers woke up to a fire billowing from the night light in their bedroom in their western Wisconsin home.
Douglas lives with autism and has a tough time communicating. He may not say much, but that night he didn't need to.
"Douglas comes bursting through the door and is like, "Hey, I think this is an emergency," said the boys' father, Karl Lane. "There's smoke all over the basement and my bed is on fire."
"It's hard sometimes when you're talking to him to get a clear, understandable answer. So when he was the one to come through the door and tell us what was going on, that was really surprising."
"It was scary because I couldn't really breathe that much," said Dominyck, who has respiratory issues.
"I could have been the first one dead," Douglas said.
The boys' parents attribute their safety to repetition. Going over the fire escape plan so many times, Douglas had memorized it.
"When they get a routine down, it's almost obsessive," their father said. "It had been really hard-coded into him. Really programmed into him."
The family of six can now recover and enjoy a simple night of board games in their safe, temporary home.
"The outcome could have been very tragic without them," Karl said. "We are very blessed. Without a doubt."
October is Fire Prevention Month. The Northern Minnesota chapter of the Red Cross responds to at least one disaster a day - 481 in the last year alone. That's the highest in five years.
The majority of those disasters are house fires.