NEWPORT, Maine — A Newport couple was able to escape their burning house on Elm Street Friday morning thanks to an alert dog.
Newport Fire Chief Jeff Chretien said the four-legged family member smelled smoke and alerted the homeowners.
“Their dog leaped onto the bed and jumped onto the guy,” said Chretien, noting the couple did not hear blaring smoke alarms.
Newport firefighters were aiding comrades in Stetson with a fire in that town when the alarm went off at their station around 2:30 a.m., according to Chretien.
Fortunately, Pittsfield firefighters were covering Newport’s station, and were able to get to the scene quickly, Chretien said.
“They were on scene within a minute of the fire,” said Chretien.
By the time the alarm went off in Newport, the fire in Stetson was under control, so Chretien’s men were able to respond to the blaze back in their town.
When they arrived, flames were shooting out of all four walls of the two-story, early 20th century-style home, according to Chretien.
The couple’s two dogs and a cat also managed to escape, the fire chief said. Firefighters from Newport, Pittsfield, Corinna, Detroit and Dexter fought the blaze. Subzero temperatures made attacking the fire difficult.
“[Pittsfield] had to back out and regroup because of broken [water] lines,” said Chretien.
Dexter’s crews brought in a ladder truck which helped crews get the fire under control, according to Chretien. The chief believes a propane heater was the primary cause of the blaze.
“There was so much fire everywhere it’s hard to tell,” said Chretien. He added the state fire marshal’s office will arrive in town later Friday to investigate.
Chretien said the house was totaled in the fire, but the owners do have insurance. Firefighters were able to go back into the house after the fire was under control and secure some of the male homeowner’s valuables, including a safe and four firearms.
“He was very concerned about those,” Chretien said.
The Red Cross has been contacted to provide assistance to the family, Chretien said.