Kitten survives as six cats die in blaze - family saved by dog
THE owner of a loyal boxer dog that saved him and his mother from a severe house fire which killed six cats has said he feels "very lucky" to be alive.
Twenty-eight-year-old Andy Wright, from Staddiscombe, said he owes his life to his dog Vinnie, an eight-year-old boxer who alerted him to a blaze in the family home in the absence of any fire alarms.
Six of the family's pet cats, including four kittens, died in the blaze, with just one kitten surviving. Andy captured a picture of the surviving kitten on the doorstep of the blazing house.
Andy and his mother Janette, 52, had not long gone to bed on Sunday when Vinnie, who was sleeping in the hallway between the two bedrooms, pushed his way into Andy's room.
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"I was just drifting off to sleep when Vinnie came bursting in," said Andy, who works in a Chinese supermarket.
"I told him to get out but then he came bursting through the door again whining. It was then I realised I could see what looked like smoke in the hallway so I got up to have a look. As I walked into the kitchen I could see smoke coming along the roof so ran back to my room to throw some clothes on," he said.
Andy said he could hear a loud crackling sound coming from the spare room, which housed the fridge/freezer, and immediately went to wake his mum up to alert her to the fire.
When he opened the door to the spare room he said all he could see was a room filled with thick black smoke and a slight orange glow.
"I shouted to mum to call the fire brigade and to get herself and Vinnie out of the house. I then ran bare-footed to my neighbour's houses to warn them of the fire. The whole street was enveloped with thick black smoke – I couldn't see anything and the fire was really loud, like a huge bonfire crackling," he said.
"I could hear Mum shouting for me but I couldn't see her and then all of a sudden the shouting stopped. I was frightened she'd gone back inside to find me."
Meanwhile Janette said she was also wondering where her son was as she could not hear his calls.
She said: "I thought Andy had been overcome by smoke and I was getting ready to go and look for him in the house when I heard him calling me."
Janette was standing in the back garden in her pyjamas, with Vinnie by her side, and managed to get herself to the front of the house, to safety, where Andy was standing.
Three fire crews were called to the blaze at around 12.10am on Monday morning.
A firefighter from Plymstock, who was at the scene, said: "It was a very hot fire, an intensity we don't see that often. The occupants are two very lucky people – they may not have made it out without the help of the dog."
Once the fire brigade had left, at around 4am, Janette went to stay with her sister, while Andy stayed at his twin brother Ben's house.
He said: "My heart was pumping and I couldn't sleep. I just remember feeling very lucky. But I wished we had a fire alarm installed – we just never really thought something like this would happen to us. I would urge everyone not to take the risk of not having a fire alarm. It could've been a very different story without Vinnie – he saved our lives."
Janette and Andy have since been told the cost of repairing the severely damaged family home they have lived in for over 28 years could be £50,000.
Janette wants people to be aware of the dangers of not having a fire alarm fitted.
She said: "It's horrendous how quickly fire and smoke spreads. It chokes you and is overpowering. This really needs to hammer home to people the message about getting fire alarms fitted. Not everyone has got a dog that is going to wake them up."
Andy said: "The whole house needs to be gutted. It's surreal. We've lost our furniture, clothes, sentimental things, all our possessions. I feel like my whole life's gone up in flames. The only Christmas present I want is my house back."