An arthritic dog saved the day when he jumped a metre-high fence to alert his owners of a fire at the house next door.
Chris and Karin Gubb were sitting down to dinner with their daughter, their son-in-law and their young grandson on Friday night when they heard a scratching at the door of their Whakamarama home at about 7pm.
"Our dog Jack had jumped out of the compound. He's got arthritis and he can't jump but he jumped out of the compound and came to the door and started scratching the door," Mr Gubb said.
Mrs Gubb poked her head out the door to see what was going on and saw their neighbour, Lyn Morrison, standing in the yard and her house on fire.
"Lyn was screaming, 'Help, help. Fire, fire'. I dropped the phone and grabbed the hose and dragged Lyn away. I tried to go into the house and put the fire out but I got beaten back," Mr Gubb said. "Trying to fight a house fire with a garden hose, it just doesn't cut the mustard.
It was pretty scary."
His wife looked after neighbour Ms Morrison while the fire service and ambulance were on their way.
"The hero of the day is the dog, Jack," Mr Gubb said. "We wouldn't have heard it or seen it."
Ms Morrison now has a new name for the 8-year-old Border Collie.
"I call him Hero," she said. "I'm proud of Jack. When the Gubbs told me I just went and hugged him. He saved me."
Ms Morrison, who still suffers from the effects of a stroke 10 years ago and cannot work, had fallen asleep on the couch and was woken by a crackling sound.
She awoke to the sight of smoke and saw her curtains in flames and fire spreading across the roof.
"I immediately dropped to the floor and crawled to the door and just got out. I just screamed for Karin and Chris."
Once she was out her first thought was to save her cat Coco but she made her getaway long before Ms Morrison.
"I'm so lucky I managed to get out and my cat got out before me," she said.
Omokoroa fire chief Ian Blunt said the flames were out about 10 minutes after they arrived but the bungalow was "completely gutted".
He said the fire appeared to have been caused by a candle.
"It appears she had some candles burning and she fell asleep in the lounge and somehow it ignited the curtain."
Ms Morrison knows she was lucky to escape with just a minor burn to her arm and is staying positive despite having lost everything but her car and the clothes on her back.
"Everyone's been wonderful," she said. "The support and the generosity of people is overwhelming."
A nurse at the hospital gave her three bags of clothes she had in her car and Ms Morrison's landlord gave her some clothes.
Ms Morrison was taken to Tauranga Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and a minor burn on her arm. She was kept overnight but was discharged on Saturday.
"She's a fantastic woman. She's lost absolutely everything," Mr Gubb said.
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