ELIDA — A dog’s consistent barking and pacing alerted her owner to a fire at a house located at 2125 Buttercup Drive in Laurel Oaks. A mother and her three children escaped the house unharmed.
The American Township Fire Department received the call at 4:25 a.m. Monday and was on the scene for about 2.5 hours. One engine with four firefighters from Shawnee Township was called in for mutual aid.
According to American Township Chief Tom Hadding, the fire began in a room above the garage. The Fire Department contained the fire to the garage and laundry room. The house is owned by Shawn M. and Shalyn K. Dotson, and is valued at $186,300, according to the Allen County Auditor’s website.
Hadding said the dog’s barking woke the mother, who at first thought there was an intruder in the house. Once she reached the kitchen, she smelled smoke and realized it was a fire.
Shalyn Dotson and her children, Trent, 12, Bryce, 8 and Marah, 5, were able to escape the fire, thanks in part to the barking of Nellie, a 2-year-old miniature goldendoodle. The family’s other dog, Dexter, a 3-year-old miniature goldendoodle, was growling.
“Nellie was barking and pacing, and Dexter was on the foot of the bed just growling. We call her ‘Super Stupid Nellie,’” Shalyn Dotson said. “She’s just normally so ornery. Not anymore!”
“She called me at work with all this stuff. I wouldn’t get home normally until 5:30 or 6 a.m.,” Shawn Dotson said.
Shalyn Dotson asked her husband if he had come home from work early and was in the garage.
“When I walked into the kitchen, I could smell hot and when I got to the door to the garage, you couldn’t even see my car in there, it was full of smoke,” Shalyn Dotson said. “And then I could hear, there’s a separate staircase that goes to the bonus room, and I could hear roaring on the other side of the door.”
Shawn Dotson added, “She stopped talking to me at that point. I kept asking what was going on, but then I knew it was something bad and just headed for home.”
While the house was saved from the fire, the black smoke got throughout the house. One pet bearded dragon, ironically named Torch, fell victim to smoke inhalation.
Shalyn Dotson’s car, a 2015 Honda Pilot, which was in the garage at the time of the fire, was damaged as well. The heat from the fire caused the airbags to deploy, and the firefighters were unable to drive it out of the garage.
“There is baseboard heat in the garage that most likely started it. That’s where I sleep during the day,” Shawn Dotson said. “That is the only spot in the house that has baseboard heat because it doesn’t have ductwork, which is good because if it had duct-work, the fire would have spread faster.”
While still in shock from the fire, the Dotsons look at it as a relief that everyone got out OK.
“That’s just stuff. We can deal with that. At least everyone is OK,” Shalyn Dotson said.
“Nellie will be getting T-bone tonight, that’s for sure,” Shawn Dotson said. “And Dexter will be getting a special snack too.”
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.