Late on Oct. 24, Shelly Bergman, Mandan, kept hearing a strange noise and couldn't shake the uneasiness she felt.

As she walked around her home she noticed a strange orange glow coming from her daughter's bedroom and realized it was coming from across the street and she looked out the window to see her neighbor's pickup and garage on fire. 

The registered nurse called 911 and ran across the street to alert her neighbors. "I didn't see any movement over there," said Bergman. "You expect that kind of fire to be a roar, it was so eerily quiet when I was running across that street, all I heard was just crackles."

Bergman added that the uneasiness she felt a few moments before was "God's way of telling me something was wrong."  

The fire, which started from a vehicle that was parked in the driveway, quickly spread to the garage and eventually engulfed the home. 

Kristina Dirk and her husband, Kyle, woke up to Bergman yelling in their front yard for them to get out of the burning house. 

"She is our guardian angel and always will be," Kristina Dirk said. "We're just absolutely thankful that she came and woke us because we just can't even imagine even a few more minutes time and how life could be different from what it is now."

She ran to get her 1-year-old son, Kannon, who was in a bedroom on the main floor, and gave him to Bergman, who had made it inside through an unlocked patio door in the back of the house and was given the child to take outside. 

Then Kristina Dirk went downstairs with her husband to retrieve their two older boys, Kassel, 4, and Cash Higbee, 8, who were asleep in the basement. Once outside, Kristina Dirk went back into the house to get their dog. 

The Morton County Sheriff’s Office and Mandan Rural Fire Department responded to the blaze and were on the scene until 3:30 a.m., returning at 6 a.m. when some debris rekindled in the basement.

Following the fire the American Red Cross provided the family with basic needs, such as toiletry items, monetary assistance for rent and groceries, as well as a stuffed animal for each of the boys. 

As of Monday, Kristina and Kyle Dirk were not back at work and still trying to find vehicles. "We're trying to take it minute by minute," Kristina Dirk said. She said construction on a new house will not begin until spring due to the impending winter.

On Monday the family moved into a rental house in Bismarck, where they will be staying until they rebuild at their homesite in Mandan.

"We're trying to go through all the donations we received to try to identify what we need and what we don't have and trying to get our lives in to a routine again," Kristina Dirk said. 

Cash, who attends Roosevelt Elementary, lost his sports and Nerf gun collections in the fire. "To an 8-year-old those things are pretty special," Kristina Dirk said. 

A GoFundMe website was created Oct. 25 with a goal to raise $5,000. It has exceeded its goal and as of Wednesday had raised $5,231.

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/dirk-family-house-fire. A relief account also has been set up at American Bank Center.

Reach Tyana Johnson at 701-250-8250 or editor@mandan-news.com.

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