When the smoke settles

County police go in for rescue, but not before family loses dogs to fiery blaze

Apartment fires are no anomaly. In fact, they seem to happen quite often in my coverage area, most likely because there is so much population density and a fair amount of low-income housing options. In traditional cases, a fire will ignite, I’ll get wind of it, and follow up with the county’s fire/EMS department to get the usual – any injuries, cost of damages, cause of fire, etc.

But last week, a blaze (still being investigated) engulfed an apartment building leaving 33 residents displaced and more than 20 apartment units destroyed. This was a bit more than your typical cooking mishap. To heighten this story, two patrolling county police officers were first to respond and miraculously saved a number of residents by pulling them out of the burning building when many of them did not even know there was a fire or had been sleeping.

And to top it off, we come to why I felt compelled to write this post. Though there were no reported injuries, a near miracle, two puppies were killed. They were both trapped inside their owner’s apartment and burned to death in the blaze. Neighbors and emergency responders alike reported they could hear the barks turn to yelps and the yelps turn to silence.

Since this event had all the ingredients of a unique story, I went to the scene to take a bit of a self-guided tour of the damages through this three-story apartment complex. While there, I saw a number of residents coming back into their apartments, taking what’s left of their belongings. This was something I never gave much thought to but it makes perfect sense. When writing other fire stories, I never thought about the actual aftermath and what those residents are now faced with.

Hearing about the dog tragedy, I began asking residents about it who were coming in and out of the rubble. I went to the very somber looking couple and asked, “Were you the dog owners?” Indeed they were.

It’s not everyday you see a grown man breakdown and cry, but this was the case of the man who said his two boxer puppies, Butter and Shiba, burned to death in front of his own eyes that night.

He hit the nail on the head when he said the material possessions can be replaced but it’s a different story when it comes to the dogs he referred to as his kids.

Check out the full story on The Gazette.

One Response to “When the smoke settles”
  1. allison marie. says:

    Such a sad story… but well written, Daniel. I hope that the couple can overcome their grief from the loss of their puppies. God bless them.

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