Two treasured family dogs have paid the ultimate price after waking their sleeping owners who escaped their burning home with 30 seconds to spare before flames engulfed the property.
But Clover, an american staffy rescue and Wilson, a labrador-staffy cross that was initially rescued by firefighters, died, devastating the McBride family.
A tearful Sian McBride, 45, today said if it weren't for her beloved dogs waking her and husband Patrick, 43, they may well have died in this week's fire along with their daughter Ashlin, 17.
The three-storey Stanmore Bay home on Auckland's Hibiscus Coast was destroyed by fire in the early hours of Wednesday and is being demolished today. The body of one of the pets is still inside.
"They saved our lives," said a grieving McBride.
"The only reason we escaped the fire was because of our dogs.
"We used all the time we had to get out. They gave us that 30 seconds.
"We love them so much and miss them so much."
Recounting the terrifying moments before their smoke-logged escape, McBride said she was woken by the agitated pets who had been sleeping on the couple's bed in their third-floor bedroom.
"It was about 2.30am. The dogs woke us up barking.
"I tried to turn on the light but it wasn't working.
"I said to my husband, 'I can smell smoke'. At that point I ran into my daughter's room to get her."
She said the family then fled down the stairs.
"By the time we got her and running to the door the smoke was thick and we couldn't see.
McBride said they tried to get out the back door but the handle was too hot so she headed to the front door before flames forced them to return to the back door.
McBride said her husband wanted to go back into the house to rescue the dogs but she refused to let him.
Hopes that the dogs had somehow survived were raised after a firefighter carried a barely alive Wilson out two hours after the fire was extinguished.
"They put him on oxygen and took him to the vet," said McBride.
"We thought he might survive but we had to put him down yesterday afternoon." She tearfully explained the dog was suffering severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
She was sure Clover, who remained inside the gutted family home, had brought the luck of the Irish into their lives.
"My husband being Irish thought she must be for us. She ended up being our good luck charm."
McBride said family had fled their home with nothing more than the nightwear they were wearing and, after losing everything, were now living with extended family.
Investigators told the family the fire was electrical and had started in the ground level garage.
McBride said since the blaze the community had rallied, showering the family in kindness.
"Our neighbours are so good. We've been feeling all the love and the humanity. People are devastated with our loss. They knew how much the dogs meant to us."
Even the vet had seen their heartache losing their 10-year-old dog in such tragic circumstances and discounted their bill.
The family were now preparing to farewell their pets in a special way, requesting the vet cremate Wilson's remains, which would be scattered in a favourite exercise spot at a local beach. They were still hoping Clover's body could be retrieved from the ruins.
A Givealittle page had been set up and so far had raised around $6300.