Lucas is one lucky pooch. Panting happily -- unaware of all the fuss outside the Waterbury Fire Station. "We always call him best boy ever. He's fantastic," said Dale Line.
Last Monday Dale Line's Stowe home went up in flames after his sauna's electrical wiring malfunctioned. His 7 year-old English Cocker Spaniel was trapped somewhere inside.
"Our mission right then was to just make sure that we got the fire out," said Waterbury Fire Battalion Chief Sally Dillon. Dillion went in to assess how far the flames had spread. She made a surprising discovery inside a pile of smoldering clothes.
"The closet itself almost seemed like it became an inferno. The source of the fire was right underneath it. The flames were coming right underneath that space catching the clothes on fire," Line said.
"On my third trip back in, when I went to take another scoop of linens and clothes, is when I actually grabbed the dog and didn't know what it was. I knew it was something alive but I didn't know if it was a person or dog or what," Dillon said.
A local photographer caught the powerful moment on camera. Lucas was barely breathing. Smoke damaged his corneas and irritated his lungs, but he was alive. "He barely lifted his head when I unburied him. I wasn't worried about him being angry. He was scared and wanted out," Dillon said.
"That persistence really saved his life," Line said
The trio reunited Monday and Dale Line had two simple words for the woman who risked her life to save man's best friend. "Thank you. Thank you," he said.
After 30 year of fighting fires, it was just another day on the job for Dillon. "It wasn't anything heroic. It's what we do. It's what any other fire department would do," she said.
But Line's employer, National Life, took notice and presented the department with a $500 check. Waterbury Fire will use the funds for fire safety outreach and says this rescue highlights an important yet painful message. "It's not worth going back in for a pet. If we can find them and bring them out, that's great but so many times people go back in for pets when it doesn't have this kind of an ending," Dillon said.
Line will have to gut 30 to 40-percent of his home. Work that he says is bearable knowing that Lucas is by his side. "Dogs are a very important part of the family and we're just so thrilled that he's still here -- so thrilled," he said.
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