Dog saves sleeping owner from fire

Published Mar 9, 2018 at 4:00pm

A heroic dog named Thor is credited with saving his owner’s life Thursday afternoon when their North Madison Street home filled with smoke and flames.

“He saved my life,” exclaimed resident Thomas Peterson as he stroked Thor from a neighboring porch. Peterson said he was asleep when the fire started.

“I just woke up to the dog barking.”

Peterson said a blanket covered the entrance to his bedroom, and “When I opened the blanket, it was pitch black smoke. I couldn’t even see to get to the door.”

Peterson said he made his way out of his home through the blinding smoke at 609 1/2 N. Madison St. He was the only member of his family home at the time. The four residents — three adults and a teenager — are now staying with other family members, officials stated.

Peterson said Thor got out as well. “I kept calling his name until he got to me,” said a relieved Peterson.

The cause of the fire at the 2 1/2-story residence remains under investigation today, said Deputy Fire Chief Thomas M. Iacovissi this morning. None of the residents were injured, but four firefighters suffered minor injuries while fighting the stubborn, hard-to-reach fire.

“There was heavy fire from the front, first and second floor windows, when I pulled up,” Iacovissi explained. The residence was tucked back behind two other neighboring homes, away from the main street.

Along with fighting the fire, crews had to work to keep flames from spreading to the neighboring homes.

“It was difficult to access from the front, with limited access in the back,” the chief said.

Firefighters launched an interior attack from the front of the home upon arrival, taking two hose lines in to knock down the bulk of the flames. Crews then moved to the Floral Street alley behind the home and attacked from the back.

The attic proved especially difficult in fighting the fire because the house had an original shingled roof with a metal roof on top, and some spots had a double metal roof.

“A metal roof keeps in the heat,” Iacovissi explained. The shingles were burning and the metal roof was trapping the heat. Crews remained on the scene until 9 p.m.

“The last couple hours, it was just funding hot spots, climbing up into the attic and pulling the ceiling down.”

The chief said four firefighters were injured. Two firefighters fell off a ladder, one of whom was hospitalized for a sprained ankle. A third firefighter slipped down the back stairs after ice started to build up. A fire investigator’s foot broke through a weakened floor while searching the home.

“They were all minor injuries,” Iacovissi stated.

Several cats are unaccounted for, he noted.

“If they’re able to get out, they get out,” Iacovissi explained.

The residence and its contents are a total loss, the chief said. He did not know if the property is insured. According to city records, the property is owned by Jeffrey and Lucretia Isherwood, who live next door.

The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.