FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - Firefighters made a remarkable discovery Wednesday inside a burned-out house in Federal Way: a tiny dog that was thought to be dead. The dog, a Chihuahua, is credited with waking up her owners, allowing them to escape, as flames raced through the home.
5-pound Chloe was pulled out of the fire-damaged home about an hour after crews extinguished the fire near 28th Avenue SW and SW 329th Street, said Assistant Fire Chief Ed Plumlee of South King County Fire & Rescue.
"I told (my wife). I said, 'she's hiding somewhere and she's going to be alive.' (The firefighters) came over and they said, ‘no way. She has too much smoke. She's probably gone, too," said Bob Fischer, one of Chloe's owners.
"She's got 250 pounds in that little four-pound body," added Tracie Fox, Chloe's other owner. "No doubt she saved us."
Fox and Fischer said they were asleep Wednesday morning when they awoke to the sound of Chloe barking. That's when they noticed smoke and flames.
"She claws at us when she wants something, and she just kept doing it until we woke up," Fischer said, "and then we looked up and there was smoke everywhere."
The two alerted Fox's daughter, Devon Whittlesey, and all three escaped the burning house.
"(My mom) was screaming my name hysterically. I could tell something was wrong from the way she was screaming my name," Whittlesey recalled. "I dropped down to my hands and knees and crawled to the front door."
Whittlesey's dog, a pitbull-terrier mix, was killed in the fire. A second dog made it out safely, but when firefighters couldn't find Chloe, they believed she was dead.
"She was left in the house and we couldn't find her," Fischer said. "The firemen looked to find her and they said most likely she couldn't live."
Plumlee said the house is a total loss. Flames also spread to the side of the neighboring house and front yard before fire crews got the blaze under control.
Fischer and Fox were treated at a hospital for minor smoke inhalation and released. They were reunited with Chloe when they got home.
"Chloe saved us," added Whittlesey. "We wouldn't have lived. If the flames wouldn't have got us, the smoke would've."