UPDATE @ 4:55 p.m.: A Dayton woman, who "for no reason whatsoever" decided to go to a different Kroger to shop for Thanksgiving food, ended up rescuing a man whose house on Shoup Mill Road caught fire Wednesday afternoon.
“I guess it was like meant to happen,” said the woman, who identified herself as C. Jay.
Jay said she was headed to the Kroger on Siebenthaler Avenue, closer to her aunt’s home, then decided instead to head to the Kroger on Needmore Road.
“I don’t know why,” she said. “For no reason whatsoever, I’m going to go to the one on Needmore.”
As she drove along Shoup Mill Road, Jay said she saw an elderly man walking out of his front door and waving his hands, “like Help! Help!”
She got out of her car and helped him move a safe distance from the house. When she asked him what happened, she said he told her he was on oxygen and had dropped a cigarette.
He then screamed, “my dog’s in there! My cat’s in there! I got pets!” Jay said, explaining she then whistled and got one dog to come out of the house but couldn’t get the other pets. She called 911 and stayed with the man until firefighters arrived.
While they were waiting for firefighters, Jay said the man’s son “popped out of the garage” apparently unaware the house had caught fire.
Dayton Fire District Chief Paul Raisch confirmed that investigators believe a cigarette may have started the blaze that engulfed the house. Heavy flames and smoke were pouring from the house when crews arrived, Raisch said.
At least one family dog remained unaccounted for, he said.
The house is not a total loss, the district chief said, but the damage was “very significant.”
Jay said the entire event was emotional for her because she recently lost her father.
“I think this was the way for me to have some closure,” she told News Center 7’s Kate Bartley.
The smoke, Jay said, was getting really thick and it was expanding. So he was oxygen dependent and he was that close to the house. It could have probably ended differently.
Her decision to head to a different Kroger -- which, she said, was farther away from her house and out of the way -- turned out to be a life-changing one for her, the man she rescued and his family.