Firefighters, dispatcher honored for helping dog that started house fire

Posted at 10:57 PM, Aug 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-07 08:37:48-04

Norfolk, Va. - After a Norfolk home was set on fire by the owner's dog last month, some of the people who took action that day are being honored.

Sophie, a Labrador, was home alone when she tried to sneak a bite of some leftover food sitting on the stove.  When she jumped up to get it, her paw hit a dial and turned on the gas burner, catching a plastic tray on fire.

Sophie's owner, Chris Sacra, wasn't home at the time.

He got a phone call from ADT telling him his alarm was going off.

Sacra  has a camera installed in a room right off the kitchen, so to make sure it wasn't a false alarm, he took a look at it through his phone and was able to see smoke filling the space.

"My first thought was that Sophie was home alone and there was no one to let her out," said Sacra.

Norfolk firefighters were quickly sent there and Sacra got home around the same time.  He let Sophie out while the firefighters jumped into action.

The fire caused some damage to his kitchen, but most of his house is okay thanks to their quick response.

Wednesday, everyone who played a role on that day met in person, including the dispatcher from the alarm company all the way in Knoxville, Tn.

"That's the best part.  The best part of the whole thing was meeting Chris and Sophie," said Michael Gervase, an ADT dispatcher, "I'm glad that I could have helped."

For their actions, the Norfolk Fire Dept. was also presented with a $5,000 grant from ADT.

It will be used to pass out free smoke detectors to people in Norfolk, something firefighters say was one of the things that saved Sophie.

"Seconds count when it comes to fire.  A fire doubles in size generally every 30 to 60 seconds," said Lt. Walter Bernacki, one of the firefighters who was there that day.

Sacra says he' grateful for everyone who took action and has since installed child protective covers on his stove's knobs to make sure it can't happen again if Sophie ever tries to get another snack.