A grandfather has told how his family was saved from a potentially devastating house fire – when his DOGS alerted him to the blaze.
Tony Baker, 59, and wife Jacky, 68, were fast asleep when the roof of their terraced property caught light at around 3.30am on Sunday (12/11).
It’s understood that the blaze started in the roof a neighbour’s house following an electrical fault, and soon spread to the former retailer’s Leicester home.
Because the fire was originally concentrated to the attic, the property’s smoke alarms didn’t sound, meaning that the retired couple could have been exposed to burning timbers.
However, Tony, a grandfather-of-four, was woken up when his border terriers Holly, one, and Poppy, three, marched into the bedroom and frantically tried to wake him up.
Eventually the dad-of-three was able to escape with Jacky, a former caretaker, grandson Jack, 16, and the two pooches.
Although the family immediately alerted emergency services, the blaze spread and left the roofs of four homes – including Tony’s – gutted.
The family have now been forced to take up residence with his daughter, Tracey, 41, a cook.
Speaking about the incident, he said: “It’s been horrific, but it would have been so much worse had it not been for Holly and Poppy.
“We were fast asleep when it broke out, as you would imagine at that time of morning, and were completely oblivious to it.
“As it was only in the roof, the fire alarms for none of the houses went off initially, and I’m not sure how long it would have been before they did go.
“I was woken up at about 3.30am by the dogs. They were frantically scratching at the bedroom door and barking, desperate to get our attention.
“I could hear this awful banging too, so perhaps that was what alerted the pair of them to the fire.
“I ran downstairs, and when I looked out of the kitchen window I could see an orange-type glow.
“At first I thought that it was just next door that was on fire, so I went out to warn them.
“But as I stepped outside, I saw that our roof was on fire too. It was one of the scariest things I think I’ve seen.
“I had to rush upstairs to warn the others – Jacky had gone straight back to sleep, because she was completely unaware of it all.
“She’s disabled, so getting her down the stairs takes some time. I had to almost carry her down, in the end, otherwise we would have been in real trouble.
“The dogs rushed straight out – they were petrified, as you can imagine.
“Just as we were leaving, burning timbers were starting to fall from the ceiling. It’s completely destroyed my wardrobe, all my clothes, Jack’s drum kit and mine and Jacky’s bed.
“If we’d have stayed in there any longer, we could have been caught in a really horrific house fire, and I think it would have been very tough to get out.
“Tiles had also started to fall down from the roof, so had we not been woken up when we were, we could have also been blocked in.
“Of course the first thing we did when we got out was to dial 999, then from there we started knocking on everyone’s house, to get them come out and away from the blaze.
“The ambulances were there very quickly, and dealt with the whole situation really well.
“It’s had a really devastating impact on us. The fire and water damage means that our home, along with all of our possessions, have been ruined.
“I’m going to call the insurance company first thing tomorrow, but it could be months and months before we get back in.
“I’m not entirely sure how I should be feeling at this moment in time, to be honest.
“On the one hand I feel really unlucky – our house has been ruined, and all of our possessions are gone.
“But, from the other side of things, I feel very fortunate.
“Had it not been for Holly and Poppy, one of us or our neighbours could have lost our lives in that fire.
“They’ve certainly been very good girls, and will be getting a treat and maybe some nice new beds when we move back in.”
Six fire engines from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service rushed to the scene, after receiving a call at 3.39am.
A spokesperson for the service said: “Crews were alerted that the roofs of two properties were ablaze.
“Upon arrival, it had spread into two adjacent properties.
“Six appliance vehicles were used, as well as an aerial ladder platform, three main jets, three hose reels and four breathing apparatus-wearers.
“The operation was scaled back at around 6.30am to two ambulances, and eventually to just one.
“It is understood that the cause of the fire was an electrical fault at one of the properties.”