Puppy alerts sleeping family to early morning house fire

A five-month-old puppy is credited with alerting a sleeping family of seven during an early morning house fire off Patrick Court in Peachtree Corners, officials said.

The family was in bed sleeping when the puppy began barking just after 4 a.m. Sunday. The persistent barking woke the father, who checked to see what was wrong.

As the man quieted the puppy, he heard a noise coming from the garage. He opened the door from the kitchen and was immediately met with smoke and heat conditions.

The man then gathered his family and all escaped unharmed. They were outside safe when the fire department arrived. No injuries were reported.

Firefighters found flames showing from the garage of the two-story wood frame house on arrival. Crews quickly deployed attack hose lines to combat the blaze and conduct a search.

Firefighters encountered intense flames and heat from a vehicle inside the garage. The fire extended to the attic directly above the attached garage before being brought under control. The fire was contained to the garage due to the quick and aggressive actions of the firefighters.

"Fire crews did a great job of preventing this fire from spreading throughout the rest of the house," said Gwinnett Fire Captain Tommy Rutledge.

The blaze caused extensive damage to the garage and attic and severe damage to the exterior portion of the vehicle in the garage. The fire sent moderate smoke throughout the house. Firefighters found two cats safe within the home and brought them out to the family. They also helped the family salvage Christmas gifts that were inside the damaged vehicle.

The exact cause of the fire is currently undetermined, but appears accidental in nature. Investigators are trying to pinpoint exactly how and where the fire started within the garage, Rutledge said.

The family, two adults and five children are displaced from the home due to the damage.

The home was equipped with a smoke alarm, however, Rutledge said they did not initially sound because there was no smoke inside the living areas of the home. According to the father, there was no sign of smoke or fire in the home when he woke to the puppy barking.

"The occupants are safe, because of an alert family pet. It is not uncommon to hear about household pets who alert people to danger," Rutledge said.