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Smart alarm saves the day after dog-caused fire in Roanoke County

(WDBJ)
Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 10:23 PM EST
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Ask the Barr family and they'll tell you: their dog Gilbert is trouble.

"Gilbert has knocked off some glass canisters, he busted a full canister full of a pound of flower, that was an interesting cleanup," said Matt Barr, his owner.

Wednesday morning, the two-year-old bluetick hound went a little too far.

"While he was here by himself, he kinda popped up onto the stove, and was able to turn on and ignite one of the burners," said Barr.

Barr was at work at the time. His wife Becca was out running errands. "And all of a sudden on my phone I'm getting these alerts from my Nest system that there's smoke in my house, there's smoke in my house," said Barr.

Once they realized what had happened, the Barrs called the fire department and rushed home to their house on Sullivan Lane in Roanoke County. When they let firefighters inside, the house was filled with smoke, but a wooden knife block was the only victim.

"It could've been a lot worse," said Roanoke County Fire/EMS's Brian Clingenpeel. According to Clingenpeel, fires like this happen all the time. "Those kinds of things are just going to happen, from pets as well as kids."

For example, across the the country in New Mexico last week, a viral video shows a similar incident, as dogs knock an ironing board onto a heater, starting a fire that severely damaged one home, leaving walls and furniture charred.

According to Clingenpeel, in cases like these, a working smoke alarm can mean the difference between a few flames and a five-alarm fire.

"Many times, people take them for granted, and they don't test them once a month like they're supposed to, or they don't replace them after 10 years," he said.

Or, better yet, Clingenpeel recommends connecting smoke alarms to a smart home system, like the Barrs'.

"Had it not been for the alerts I was getting on my phone, we'd have had no idea this was happening, and couldn't have acted to get help over here, and this could've spread very quickly," said Matt Barr.

Barr is thankful things didn't get more out of hand. He says all that remains Wednesday night is dealing with the smell left by the fire, and the dog that started it all.

"Gilbert's not going anywhere! He's costing us a couple of bucks, but he's such a good boy," he said." But we may have to work on the counter surfing."

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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