Boy, dog save family

By Heather J. Carlson

ST. CHARLES — When 10-year-old Jonathan Lukowicz saw flames devouring the family’s garage, he took action. The boy immediately ran upstairs, waking up his mom and older sister.

Exploding gas cans ignited the family van just after the family escaped. Soon, flames spread to the house.

"If my son didn’t come get my daughter and me, we wouldn’t have made it. There’s no way," said Jonathan’s mother, Cathie Lukowicz.


The blaze started Saturday morning at the family home at 825 Millard Ave. in St. Charles. Fire Chief Lyle Peterson said it appears that the fire accidentally started in the tuck-under garage. No one was injured, though two cats died in the fire. Peterson said the house is a total loss.

Cathie and Jay Lukowicz rent the home, which is owned by the Berea Moravian Church.

The family’s dog also is being credited with helping them escape the blaze. The Shih Tsu, named "Bug," kept barking at the garage door and would not stop. Jonathan and a friend were playing on a computer and heard the dog. That’s when Jonathan decided to look in the garage.

"By the time my son got out to the garage, he looked at it and it was engulfed in flames," Cathie Lukowicz said.

Jonathan then ran upstairs and got his mom and 14-year-old sister, Abbie. His dad, Jay Lukowicz, was in Wisconsin.

A neighbor, Karen Ellsworth, was on her way to work when she got a call from a family member telling her about the fire.

"I came right back home and did what I could," she said. "It was scary and it was pretty sad."

The family delivers the Post-Bulletin to several homes in St. Charles. This week, they were already back at work, delivering the paper.


Jay Lukowicz works as a mechanical engineer at IBM, and Cathie Lukowicz owns a professional cleaning service.

The family has received assistance from the Winona County Red Cross and is currently living in a motel. They do have rental insurance. Ellsworth has also been hard at work rounding up support for the family, helping to gather clothes and other donations.

In an interview Monday, Cathie Lukowicz said she has been amazed by the community’s response.

She added, "People have just been so generous."

What To Read Next
Get Local