NEWAYGO COUNTY, Mich. — A West Michigan family is helping a man get back on his feet after he lost everything in a fire over the weekend.
Brett Alcumbrack had been staying at a friend’s home in Newaygo County and everything he owned was inside: including his two dogs, his sister says were like his kids.
He ran back inside to save one of them, who died Monday morning. Now, loved ones are trying to get him the support he needs.
Coleen Byrne spoke with FOX 17 from her home in Hudsonville while her brother, Brett Alcumbrack recovers in the hospital. Byrne says he was staying at a friend’s house in Newaygo County near Ensley Center, when a fire broke out early Saturday morning.
"He woke up coughing from the smoke and then panicked and tried to get out," said Byrne.
Alcumbrack ran out of the home, but ran back in to try and save his dogs. His 4-month-old puppy, Peanut, didn’t make it, but he was able to find his 11-year-old dog, Booger.
"He got in and then the back draft hit him," said Byrne. "He followed his hands towards Booger’s crying, got him, and then turned around to try and go back, lost track of where he was, finally found the door and rolled out into the snow," said Byrne.
He ran through the snow to a neighbor’s house where they put him in a cold shower. His family says Alcumbrack now has second-degree burns on much of his body. Booger died at the vet’s office on Monday.
"That’s all he had," said Byrne. "He doesn’t have kids, he doesn’t have a spouse or anything like that. Those were his kids. Especially Booger.”
Coleen says Brett lost everything he had, but says donations are giving them hope. The dog’s vet bills for more than $6,000 were almost completely covered by GoFundMe donations, and organizations like LuvnPups and Dollar for Doxies.
"It’s a blessing," said Byrne.
Byrne says her phone has been ringing nonstop with people asking how they can help, saying it’s amazing to see how people spring into action in the face of tragedy.
"I think if anything its reconnected some of us that were not so connected and I think when you’re in crisis, people pull together somehow, it’s almost instinct," said Byrne.
Byrne says her brother will likely be in the hospital until Thursday.
A Go Fund Me page is set up to help with expenses for Alcumbrack.
The cause of the fire is still unknown.