A fire March 23 destroyed the interior of the Royal Oak home that Keith and Kate Streidl had lived in for four years.

A fire March 23 destroyed the interior of the Royal Oak home that Keith and Kate Streidl had lived in for four years.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik


Royal Oak family loses dog, possessions in house fire

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published March 28, 2019

 Keith and Kate Streidl, of Royal Oak, are pictured with their surviving dog, Murray, a 4-year-old golden retriever. The couple lost their yellow Lab, Maggie, as well as their possessions, in a house fire March 23.

Keith and Kate Streidl, of Royal Oak, are pictured with their surviving dog, Murray, a 4-year-old golden retriever. The couple lost their yellow Lab, Maggie, as well as their possessions, in a house fire March 23.

Photo provided by Kate Streidl

 Maggie, a yellow Lab who turned 1 two weeks before dying in a Royal Oak house fire March 23, reclines on a bed in happier times.

Maggie, a yellow Lab who turned 1 two weeks before dying in a Royal Oak house fire March 23, reclines on a bed in happier times.

Photo provided by Kate Streidl

 Murray reclines with a toy bone after being released from the intensive care unit of an emergency veterinary clinic in Madison Heights.

Murray reclines with a toy bone after being released from the intensive care unit of an emergency veterinary clinic in Madison Heights.

Photo provided by Kate Streidl

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ROYAL OAK — Shortly after 11 p.m. March 23, a Royal Oak couple returned to their home from watching a Michigan State University basketball game at a friend’s house to discover what could be described as their worst nightmare.

Firefighters responded to Kate and Keith Streidl’s call that they had opened the door to discover thick, black smoke permeating the house, located on North Connecticut Avenue, near Gardenia Avenue.

The worst part: the couple’s two dogs — Murray, a 4-year-old golden retriever, and Maggie, a yellow Lab who had just turned 1 — were inside the home.

Keith said the couple were gone for three hours, and Kate said she knew something was wrong when the porch light was off and the windows were blacked out.

Then she smelled the smoke.

“I ran to the door and Murray was propped up against the back door. He was not breathing when I pulled him from the house, so I gave him mouth to mouth and then he took a breath, so I ran inside of the house to try to find Maggie,” said Kate, who is a nurse. “I couldn’t see anything and I just remember stepping on glass. I couldn’t find her.”

She said the Fire Department arrived within two minutes, and she told them about Maggie being inside, most likely under the bed — her go-to place for when she was scared. Maggie had already died by the time firefighters brought her out of the home.

Keith scooped Murray off the driveway and carried him to the easement of the home, and Kate and a firefighter worked to resuscitate him.

“They were so understanding, and the firefighter who worked on Murray with me, I want to thank him because Murray is alive because of him, and because we were able to get him oxygen,” Kate said. “Finally, after a minute of oxygen, he woke up and he was so confused.”

Assistant Fire Chief Jim Cook, of the Royal Oak Fire Department, said in a March 26 phone interview that the first firefighter on the scene reported that there were no flames.

“What we think happened, basically, is (the fire) just suffocated because it didn’t have enough oxygen to get going. It was just smoldering, but never broke into a free burn,” Cook said. “There was a lot of heat, so everything melted. Everything that was plastic melted, and there was a lot of smoke damage.”

He said it was clear that the fire originated in the living room, but that the cause of the fire was still under investigation. He said the inside pane of double-pane glass windows in the living room broke due to the fire.

“Two dogs were removed from the home. One went to the emergency vet and the other was deceased,” he said. “We gave it oxygen and then got it over to the emergency vet. It took in a lot of smoke — there was a lot of smoke in the house.”

On March 25, Kate posted on the Facebook group Royal Oak, MI Community Forum that Murray had been moved out of the ICU, weaned off oxygen and released to the couple.

Two GoFundMe pages were set up to help the Streidl family with veterinary expenses and rebuilding their lives. At press time, one had raised $5,200 by 94 people in three days; the other had raised $15,080 by 195 people in two days, both surpassing their goals.

Royal Oak and surrounding communities rallied to help the family, as well as people from as far away as the United Kingdom and Germany.

On March 27, the couple, clad in donated and borrowed clothing and accompanied by Kate’s parents and Murray, returned to the house to pick up a donated bag of clothing and a stethoscope for Kate.

They said the response from the community was overwhelming, especially since they are both originally from the west side of the state and are relatively new to Royal Oak.

“We can’t ask for more; just prayers,” Kate said. “I would give up all my possessions just to have (Maggie) back.”

She added that once she and Keith are settled, she wants to create a fund using any surplus donations for the next family that suffers a house fire.

“We just went to see this house where we’re going to stay, and I bawled because it’s not home. It’s hard when you built a whole life here and see it go away,” Kate said. “But we have amazing family, amazing friends, amazing community. We’re really proud to be a part of Royal Oak.”

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