Dog wakes owner before Alberta home burns down — again
‘He was running around the house going a little crazy,’ says Neshan Wagstaffe
Neshan Wagstaffe has been lavishing his dog Clouseau with some extra treats and even a new bed ever since the animal woke him from a mid-afternoon nap last week.
Clouseau's wet nose didn't just alert Wagstaffe it was time to wake up, it warned him it was time to get out of the house — and fast.
"He was running around the house going a little crazy," Wagstaffe said.
For the second time in just over a year, Wagstaffe's house was on fire.
He immediately saw the fire had already burned all the way up the side of his mobile home in Fort McMurray's Timberlea neighbourhood.
"I knew right there the house wasn't going to be saved," he said.
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Wagstaffe said he grabbed Clouseau and a friend who was staying with him, got out of the home and called 911.
The home Wagstaffe and his wife, Denise Molnar, had just rebuilt after it was destroyed in the Fort McMurray wildfire was gone — once again.
"We were almost finished with the landscaping and just had a front gate and fence to do," Molnar said. "I couldn't wait just to sit on the deck and breathe a sigh of relief."
On the afternoon of Aug. 12, five fire trucks and 13 firefighters arrived at the property on McKinley Crescent.
The structure was too engulfed in flames to save, so the firefighters protected the neighbouring houses that were also just rebuilt months ago, according to Brad Grainger, deputy chief of operations with Wood Buffalo Emergency Services.
"It's unfortunate that this family has to go through this total loss of a structure," Grainger said.
"The good thing is it was contained to this one unit. Little bit of damage on the other one."
'He's smart. He's attached to us'
The last several months have been stressful for the couple and they don't expect the next to be any easier, they said. For now, they're staying with a friend until they get back on their feet.
Still, they are thankful they escaped with their lives — and with Clouseau.
"I'm not surprised he woke [my husband] up," Molnar said. "He's smart. He's attached to us."
The fire is still under investigation. It's suspected a meat smoker the couple's friend was tending to on the deck might have caused the blaze.