Dog comes to owner’s rescue in house fire

PANAMA – A Panama man safely escaped his home early Thursday morning after his dog warned him of a fire brewing inside.

Larry Jantzi, the only resident of the house at 541 Goshen Road, said he fell asleep watching the television when his dog – a female mixed lab named Ruger – woke him up shortly before midnight.

“She kept on carrying on … which she never does at night because she’s usually sleeping,” Jantzi said. “She’s the one who woke me up, not the smoke alarms.”

After heeding to Ruger, Jantzi immediately noticed the smoke and bright glow emanating from his kitchen door. He quickly called 911 and left the house.

Fire crews from Panama, Clymer, Ashville, Busti, Sherman, Bear Lake, Pa., and Columbus, Pa., responded to the scene shortly afterward.

According to Vernon Sheldon Jr., Panama fire chief, an orange glow could be seen coming from the house upon his arrival, as well as smoke from the eaves.

Firefighters battled the blaze throughout the early morning, with frigid temperatures freezing fire equipment and even causing minor mechanical problems. The Harmony Highway Department assisted in plowing and salting roads near the area too, Sheldon said.

The scene was eventually cleared at approximately 8:20 a.m.

No injuries were sustained.

“The cause of fire appears to be a woodstove in the kitchen,” Sheldon said. “There was significant damage to the attic and second floor. The first floor was damaged also, but not as bad as the second floor.”

Jantzi, who was assisted by Lin Baylis, Red Cross Disaster Team volunteer, at the scene with both food and accommodations, said he will look into putting up a new house.

As far as Ruger is concerned, Jantzi is grateful.

“She’s real loyal,” he said. “If I had been in there a couple more minutes, I might not have gotten out.”

When asked what her reward will be, Jantzi laughed and said she will get extra treats from now on.

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