Hero Dog Saves Owner and Neighborhood From Massive Fire
Dog is honored for his heroic efforts in saving multiple lives from a fire.
Good boy, Charlie! The 2-year-old Australian labradoodle is celebrated as a hero for saving lives by alerting his owner to a fire in his Clovis, Calif., neighborhood. Charlie rarely whines or barks, so "when he does, it gets our attention," his owner Chad McCollum told the Washington Post. As a result of Charlie barking nonstop, McCollum woke up, saw the fire, and jumped into action.
Charlie started barking around 2:45 a.m., his owner explained to the Washington Post. McCollum and his wife woke up and decided to take him outside because they thought he had to use the restroom, but the loud, incessant barking continued. "I was afraid he was going to wake the neighbors." He added, "I was a little frustrated."
At this point, McCollum hadn't seen the fire yet, so Charlie refused to go back inside the house, which was also unusual for him. He kept barking and looking at one corner of the yard. McCollum looked around to see what his dog was focused on, and that's when he saw the fire.
"I walk over to the corner of the yard where he's barking, and I see the plume of smoke up in the sky and kind of an orange glow," he told ABC-30.
Once McCollum saw the fire a couple of streets over, he ran over to the scene where the fire was growing. An RV between two homes caught on fire, and flames were spreading to the exterior of the houses. He called 911 and started pounding on doors to wake people up. "I was running back and forth, just trying to bang on the doors," he told the Post. "It's starting to be a pretty big fire at this point."
McCollum recalled that the flames had reached 20 feet high, and as emergency workers arrived, the people living in the homes near the fire were able to escape unharmed.
"The firefighters worked really quickly to put out the fire," said McCollum, who stayed with the families while the flames were being extinguished. "I was just in shock, as was everyone else."
The neighbors, who McCollum didn't know before the fire, thanked him for saving their life, but he told them, "It wasn't me. I would be dead asleep if it weren't for my dog."
He added, "I wouldn't have woken up. There is no way," he said. "He alerted us to danger, and it made a difference."
Stephen Quick, whose home was damaged in the fire, is thankful for Charlie. He was able to get out of a dangerous situation with his two teenagers and their two golden retrievers unscathed. "We 100 percent would not be alive today if it weren't for Charlie," Quick told the Post, explaining that none of the fire alarms in the house went off because the flames were outdoors. "If it weren't for Charlie, and if it weren't for Chad, we wouldn't be here."
He continued, "I have a lot of gratitude," and added that he and his sons gave Charlie a basket of treats to thank him. The fire damaged Quick's home extensively, and are currently staying with friends. According to the Post, Quick "estimates that about half the house will need to be replaced, and the majority of the damage is to the roof and rafters."
An investigation took place immediately after the April 28th fire, and a few days later, authorities arrested a suspect in connection to the incident. The Clovis Police Department Facebook page states, "Clovis Police Detectives arrested 47-year-old Andrew Dubbels of Fresno for multiple felonies including arson, child endangerment, stalking, and possession of a destructive device. Dubbels was booked into Fresno County Jail."
Ty Wood, a public information officer for the Clovis Police Department, said, "This was not a random act. It was targeted." Neither Wood nor Quick shared details as to why Quick's home would be targeted. "Luckily, there were no injuries," Wood said. If not for Charlie and his owner's rapid response, "it could have been much worse."
Charlie is a true hero and was honored for his actions that saved lives and his neighborhood. "Members of the Clovis Fire Department later delivered a fire hat and badge to Charlie as a thank you, and neighbors dropped off a "medal" for the four legged hero," the Clovis Police Department's Facebook page states.
The Post reports that McCollum, who has two children ages 10 and 13, was "super proud" of Charlie and gave him "good belly rubs and treats" after the fire. Beyond the companionship pets offer, he said, "There's a reason we have them in our lives."