'I just felt fur and I grabbed him': Man enters burning home to save family dog

A family has lost all of their belongings after a Friday night fire in Middle Sackville, N.S.

'I'm going back in, I'll get him,' Mark Saunders said after learning Oskar was still in the house

Mark Saunders emerges from the burning home with Oskar the dog. (Lisa Williams/Facebook)

Mark Saunders and his niece had just rushed out of their burning home in Middle Sackville, N.S., on Friday night when they realized the family dog was still inside.

"She said Oskar's still in the house. I told her, 'You stay here, don't move, don't go near the house. I'm going back in, I'll get him,'" said Saunders.

Saunders ran back into the home and on all fours, he searched and called for Oskar, the Shetland sheepdog. A thick layer of smoke ran from the ceiling to about 1.5 metres from the ground, but worsened in the two minutes it took for Saunders to find Oskar.

"By the time I caught him, I couldn't even see. I just felt fur and I grabbed him and said 'We're going.' I had to feel my way out," said Saunders.

Lisa Williams, a neighbour who lives across the street, captured the moment Saunders emerged from the home with the sheltie in his arms. She posted the video to Facebook.

Neither Saunders nor Oskar were hurt by the flames.

Besides Saunders and his niece, Saunders' brother-in-law and sister, Heather Lohnes, live in the rental home. She said the family lost all of their possessions and doesn't have tenants insurance.

The couple were at their cottage in Upper Kennetcook, which is about an hour away from Middle Sackville, when the fire broke out.

"I just hate to think of what happened if it didn't go the way that it did," said Lohnes. "We're trying to focus on what we have and not what we don't have."

Lohnes said she's amazed at how the community has rallied around them. A fundraiser was held at a local pool hall on Saturday and a 15-year-old neighbour even started a GoFundMe campaign.

This is what the home looked like one day after the fire. (Mark Saunders)

The fire broke out at around 7:30 p.m. Lohnes said the source of the fire was the electrical panel in the garage.

Saunders was having a nap in his room on the third floor when a smoke alarm went off and he woke up. He left his room, where he was met by his niece, who was studying in an adjoining room. The two didn't see any smoke, but she smelled something like burning plastic.

Saunders went down to the bottom level and opened the interior door to the garage.

"The whole thing was engulfed in flames," he said.

Six fire trucks and about 20 firefighters responded to the fire, as did RCMP.

Saunders was treated for smoke inhalation

Saunders, who was covered in soot from head to toe after his rescue efforts, was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene, but he's fine now.

The garage and front of the home suffered major damage. The home is the end unit that's part of five townhouses. The other townhouses weren't damaged.