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Good dog! St. Lawrence family alerted to house fire by family pet

The Curtis family dog, Jake, alerted them that something was wrong on Saturday morning by jumping on their beds.  (Submitted by Eliza Coffey - image credit)
The Curtis family dog, Jake, alerted them that something was wrong on Saturday morning by jumping on their beds. (Submitted by Eliza Coffey - image credit)
Submitted by Eliza Coffey
Submitted by Eliza Coffey

In the early hours of Saturday on the Burin Peninsula, a St. Lawrence family was left looking for a place to live after an upstairs heater caught fire and destroyed their home — but they're crediting the family dog for getting them out of the house.

Emma and Derrick Curtis were asleep when their dog, Jake, started jumping on the bed and running through the halls.

"I yelled at him and told him to get out, that kind of thing. And he started running back and forth the hall and I think it was like five or 10 minutes later he was back in up on the bed, literally forcing me out of the bed."

It turns out Jake was trying to tell them something was wrong.

Curtis said she could hear a thumping noise outside and assumed it was the lid of the garbage can hitting the house or one of the house's doors swinging in the wind.

Around 5:15 a.m., her husband, Derrick, who was getting ready to plow snow from the storm the night before, went to see what was causing the noise.

He checked the garbage can and the back door, the shed doors and the upstairs door. A few minutes later, he came running back in, said Emma Curtis.

"He went up and he opened up the door and it was a big old pile of black smoke came out and got him. And he rushed back into the house telling us to 'get out, get out, call the fire department' because [the house] was on fire."

Submitted by Eliza Coffey
Submitted by Eliza Coffey

Curtis called the fire department and they all scrambled to get outside. She said it's hard to believe the place they called home for 17 years is just gone.

"It is just pure adrenalin. It hasn't really hit me yet that the house is gone," she said. "It hasn't really sunk in yet."

A helping hand

The family walked out with just the clothing on their backs. All of their belongings were destroyed, and they had no house insurance.

Curtis said help from their friends and the community is a relief. Right now, they are staying in an efficiency unit that belongs to a friend until they can find another place to live.

"The support from our community in St. Lawrence and the other communities has been overwhelming. Like we can't thank the people for what they've done," she said.

Family friend Kayla Lake of Mount Pearl grew up next door to the Curtis family. When she learned about the fire from her uncle in St. Lawrence, who could see the fire from his window, she knew she wanted to help the family in any way she could.

Submitted by Eliza Coffey
Submitted by Eliza Coffey

"I knew things weren't going to be good. I mean, a house fire is never good for any family, no matter if it's repairable or not," she said. "So right then and there, I knew that I had to do something, you know. I may be living in Mount Pearl, but my heart is always home."

Lake said she called Curtis and asked if she could start a 50/50 fundraising draw to help them. Each square is ten dollars and the money will be split between the Curtis family and the winner.

Lake said she knows the family would do anything for anyone.

"It felt like to me that was my part for me to step in and help them get back on their feet in any way possible," she said.

For Emma Curtis, the main thing is they all got out.

"As our son says in St. John's, 'The rest is just material, Mom, as long as you're OK.'"

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