Pet dog perishes with boy in home fire

WASHINGTON • A pet dog has died in a hopeless attempt to save a three-year-old boy from an intense fire that destroyed his home in the American state of Washington.

Firefighters in the city of Spokane found the boy dead in the back bedroom of the single-storey suburban house, a teddy bear next to him and the body of the family's pet terrier mix huddled over him.

The fire's temperature probably reached more than 500 deg C - so intense that it began to melt furniture and dishes. As smoke poured out of the home late last Friday, neighbours called 911, dragged a garden hose across the street and tried to douse the flames.

A man and a woman inside the rental house dashed out with three children. But a fourth child, the three-year-old, was still inside and neighbours and police officers failed to rescue him because of the intense heat and flames, said Spokane assistant fire chief Brian Schaeffer.

Firefighters, wearing protective suits, found the boy's body in the bedroom. Mr Schaeffer said: "The injuries were so extreme... There was no way to survive that. It leaves a permanent scar in someone's memory. You can't unsee that."

Fire officials have not said what caused the fire, which remains under investigation. The Spokane police major crimes unit is also investigating the child's death.

Mr Schaeffer on Sunday said he was still fuming over what investigators found in the home's wreckage: A smoke detector with no battery inside. And his department even hands out smoke detectors free.

"You know children are at risk. They don't have the experience to get low and close the door, which is huge. (A smoke detector) will give you minutes in a residential fire."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2016, with the headline 'Pet dog perishes with boy in home fire'. Print Edition | Subscribe