INDIANAPOLIS — Around 1 a.m. on Monday Feb. 13, John Mullis pulled back the curtain to his tractor-trailer and saw a huge fire at the property next to where he was parked.

“It was full-blown flames, probably 20, 25 feet tall,” John said.

John and his wife Mary are long-haul truck drivers from Florida. They were parked at their company headquarters right next door to Rosie’s Southside Animal Shelter. John said the nearby fire was a “raging inferno.”

“It looked like something out of a movie,” John said.

John jumped out of his truck, barefoot in jeans and a t-shirt, and ran over to the shelter. Meanwhile, Mary called 911. John started banging on the doors of the buildings not on fire to see if anyone was inside.

“I heard the dogs barking and I thought there’s got to be someone in the building,” John said.

At the same time, the fire was consuming the barn Rosie’s used for storage. To its left was an administration building and across the parking lot from the flames was the dog and cat building. That’s where John was pounding on the door, but even from across the parking lot, the flames were hot.

”I burnt this side of my face because I was hitting the door in this direction and the fire was on this side,” John said.

John eventually broke through the door with his shoulder. Once he was inside, he ran into a wall of heat.

”As soon as I walked into the room it was just sweltering hot inside the room,” John said, gasping how he had when he first went in. “Which is when I ran out and I told them we got to get the dogs because they are not going to make it.”

Thankfully, that’s when the fire department showed up and stopped the other two buildings from going up in flames. 

John said it took about 15 minutes for his adrenaline rush to stop and the pain in his shoulder, legs, feet and face to start.

“That’s when the bottoms of my feet started hurting from running and that when the cold set in,” he said.

Bryce Brady, the manager at Rosie’s, said if John and Mary wouldn’t have called 911 at the exact moment they did – pets would have died.

”At a minimum, I believe he saved 40 cats’ lives,” Bryce said. “The house was on fire, the fire department got here just in time to save the house.”

What John had not realized at the time, the administration building closest to the barn had 40 cats inside of it. It also serves as the cat intake facility. The building had just started to burn when the fire department got there.

”I saw most of this the other day, but I didn’t realize the gravity of it till Bryce took us around,” John said.

Up until a few days ago, Bryce and the others at Rosie’s had only heard about what the couple had done and did not know who they were. Bryce made a plea to FOX59 Tuesday, for the Good Samaritan who called 911 to come forward, but John had no plans to.

Then, a coworker showed John the FOX59 story about the fire and how the staff at Rosie’s wanted to thank the man who had called 911 and rushed over to break down a door. John said that’s when he and Mary decided to walk over to Rosie’s and introduce themselves.

”At first they all got emotional, then after they started showing me around, I got emotional,” John said.

Bryce did exactly what he told FOX59 he was going to do when he met the person who called 911.

“I shook his hand and said thank you, it was the very first thing I did,” Bryce said.

He admitted that there were hugs following the handshake as he showed John and Mary around Rosie’s and introduced them to the animals they helped save.

”I have a permanent smile inside and I don’t know how long it’s going to last but I don’t think its going away anytime soon,” John said.

John said the reason he ran into the steaming hot building with the fire burning outside is he’s an animal lover himself. He and Mary travel everywhere with their dog, Shiloh.

”He’s our family and I don’t know what I would do if anything happened to him,” John said.

John and Mary aren’t the only ones who deserve a thank you. Bryce said they’re so grateful to the firefighters who responded to the 911 call and got the flames put out before any animals were hurt.

Then, there are thousands of others who Bryce wants to thank, but doesn’t know if he’ll be able to.

”I’m at a loss for words with the amount the community has come forward,” Bryce said. “It’s never-ending, I’ve never seen so much traffic in our parking lot.”

Since the fire Monday morning, Bryce said they have seen car after car come with donations and deliveries. They have been able to fill a 40-foot storage unit twice now. A GoFundMe has raised more than $34,000 and anonymous donors have contributed thousands outside of that.

“About the only way I can thank everybody is this right here,” Bryce said, pointing at the camera. “I mean, thank you, thank everybody.”

Bryce said the exact future for Rosie’s isn’t exactly certain. They’re still waiting on the final report from the fire department, the insurance inspection and the okay for demolition. But, thanks to the community, he is confident they will be able to rebuild.

”When people pull into the parking lot and hand you a bag of donations and say, ‘We’re so sorry,’ and you can see tears in their eyes, it’s hard not to join them,” Bryce said.

If you want to help Rosie’s Southside Animal Shelter, Bryce said they are constantly updating their Facebook page with what is most needed.

As for John and Mary, they will soon hit the road again, but they’ll always make time for Rosie’s when they’re back in town.

“I don’t think coming here and not stopping is going to be an option,” John said.

If you would like to schedule an appointment to meet an animal up for adoption at Rosie’s or fill out an application to adopt, you can check out their website.