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Barking dog helps save Melrose family from house fire

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 2/18/2019 By Abigail Feldman
a small brown and white dog sitting on a table: Emmie is an eight-pound Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix. © Ciccarello Family Emmie is an eight-pound Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix.

A barking eight-pound Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix named Emmie sounded the alarm, helping save a Melrose family after their home caught fire Sunday morning, fire officials said.

The warning gave Joseph Ciccarello and his wife time to run out of the house in their pajamas as firefighters rushed to their home at 237 1st Street around 7 a.m. Sunday, fire officials said.

Thanks to Emmie, the fire turned out to be a nuisance but not a tragedy, Ciccarello said.

“When you lose everything, you realize you have everything you need,” he said.

No was injured in the one-alarm fire, but the flames left the single-family house with substantial damage, according to Melrose Fire Captain James Gibson. Heat from the flames also melted a vinyl-composite fence near the house.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined, fire officials said. Crews cleared the area around 12:50 p.m.

Emmie, who will be 2 years old in May, alerted her owners about the danger even before the fire entered the house, Ciccarello said. None of the house’s fire alarms had been tripped when, prompted by Emmie’s loud barking, Ciccarello looked to see fire raging outside a window sometime around 7 a.m.

By the time the family was evacuating, Emmie had disappeared.

“The firemen told us it wasn’t going to be good,” Ciccarello said.

But about an hour later, responders found Emmie scared and hiding under a couch. She was rushed to the vet where she was treated with oxygen overnight.

Emmie, the runt of her litter, has always been protective of her family, Ciccarello said.

“She’s not a barker but she’s always by your side.


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