By Brian Livingston
A pet is credited by county fire service authorities with saving the life of a woman and her two young children early Wednesday morning after their home caught on fire.
Lauderdale County Fire Service Coordinator Allan Dover said the dog started barking after a fire broke out in the kitchen and that the mother said she only heard the smoke detectors going off after after being awakened by the dog.
"I believe if the dog had not been in the home, those people may not be with us today," Lauderdale County Fire Service Coordinator Allan Dover said Wednesday afternoon. "This is one of those great acts animals do for people from time to time that makes you glad to have them around."
After she awoke, the woman "saw the fire in the kitchen and she rushed to get the children out, call 911, and do what she could to try and fight the fire herself," Dover said.
At about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday three volunteer fire departments were called to the fire in the home located at 3550 Old Eighth Street North Road. Dover said he was on the scene first and when he pulled up he could see two small children standing in the front doorway of the home with smoke billowing out from around them.
"I snatched up the children — I'm guessing they were aged three and five years old — and put them in my truck, which was warm," Dover said. "The woman came out almost right after them."
The woman suffered minor injuries to one hand. The children were unharmed.
Lost Gap Volunteer Fire and Rescue were the primary responders and arrived seconds later, with Suqualena and South volunteer fire departments arriving on scene immediately thereafter. After talking with the woman, responders learned that the dog could not be located.
"We had the fire pretty much contained and several of the firefighters were sent into the home to try and locate the dog," Dover said.
Conducting a search of the smokey interior, firefighters were able to locate Hersey after a few minutes but the canine was in respiratory arrest, Dover said. Metro Ambulance paramedics who had arrived on the scene took the dog and gave it oxygen and provided other care until Hersey was up and about, wagging his tail at the sight of the children.
Dover said the home sustained limited damage to the kitchen and carport area due in large part to the efforts of the firefighters.
"We had a great response with good numbers of manpower," Dover said. "It was really cold and at that hour to get those firefighters and support personnel on the scene and fighting the fire so quickly is really something."
Dover said the cause of the fire was ruled accidental and as a result of the investigation it was determined the fire started in the carport space and spread to inside the kitchen area of the home.
"Let's see, the dog saved the family, firefighters and paramedics saved the dog, and the house was saved," Dover said. "I'd say that was a good day."