It was around 1 a.m. when the Freeman family was abruptly awoken by their 1-year-old dog, Oakley.
"My son arrived last night with his dog and thank God because she woke us up at 1 o'clock this morning," Marie Freeman said. "Our unit was pretty much full of smoke. You know, you smell it and you think it's the downdraft in the fireplace, but it was coming up behind our sofa, the smoke was, so we just said evacuate and started pounding on doors and got everybody out of the building."
The Freemans were in the Mountainside condos near Sugarbush Village in Warren. Fire crews say everyone got out safely, but at least 36 units were destroyed as fire barreled through the complex.
People at the scene said there were fire alarms in the condo units, but they did not go off right away. The building also did not have a sprinkler system in place, making the responding firefighters' job that much more difficult.
"A lot of things went wrong. We had a truck quit, we had a shortage of water and we just couldn't get ahead of it," Warren Fire Chief Peter DeFreest said.
DeFreest said he has never seen fire this bad. In fact, it took the brave efforts of six different fire departments from around the region to extinguish the blaze.
"I mean we usually see four of these go, but never the whole block," DeFreest said.
Despite the fire's size there were no injuries, in part thanks to Oakley the hero dog.
"She jumped up on the bed and sat on me. Sat on my head a couple times until I woke up," Bill Freeman said.
She certainly deserves a few extra treats.
The fire was blazing throughout most of the day Monday.
A state police fire investigator told us it was likely an accident caused by a fireplace in one of the units, and they are estimating around $2 million in damages.
Thankfully, the hard work of many, both man and dog, helped save countless lives. This really gives man's best friend new meaning!
Friday, March 7 2014 7:28 PM EST2014-03-08 00:28:44 GMT
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