Saturday afternoon, April and Brandon Gourley had just arrived in Gulf Shores where they planned to celebrate seven years of marriage when a family member called to tell them the bad news.
“We were there long enough to stop at the grocery store and buy $150 worth of groceries. We got in the car and drove right back. It turned into a 16-hour trip,” said April Gourley.
The couple has four children, but none of them were home at the time. However, the family’s dog and three cats were.
Neighbors called 911 to report the fire.
A man driving by stopped and ran into the burning home to rescue the dog. Neighbors said he then got into his car and drove away.
The family has been told the good Samaritan is Tim Tawater, of Springfield, a firefighter who was off-duty at the time.
They would like to meet him and say “thank you” in person.
“I want to really thank him for everything he has done. It’s just really an act of kindness,” said the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Kirsten Spilka.
The family’s three cats remained missing until Sunday night when two of them were discovered uninjured and hiding under a mattress in a back bedroom of the home.
“I was just relieved. I started crying because I love my cats and it’s just really amazing that they survived,” Spilka told News 2.
The family still has not found the third cat.
Since the fire, there has been an outpouring of support for the Springfield couple and their children, ages 5, 9, 12 and 13.
Spilka said it has also taught her an important life lesson.
“Just be thankful for what you have because you might not get it the next day,” Spilka told News 2.
“It is an anniversary we will never forget. We’ll remember this one for sure,” joked April and Brandon.
The couple told News 2 they totaled their car on the way to Gulf Shores last year to celebrate their 6th anniversary.
“Next year I think maybe we’ll try the Smoky Mountains,” said April.
The family has insurance, and fire inspectors are expected to come to the home on Tuesday.
It is believed the fire was caused by electrical problems and likely started in the kitchen, according to the family.