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Pup credited with saving Jeannette family

| Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Greensburg firefighters assist the Jeannette fire department at a residential attic fire Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, on Jeannette's North Fourth Street. MARY PICKELS I TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Cailey Longo holds her puppy, Molly, whose barks Sunday afternoon, Jan. 6. 2013, alerted family members to a house fire in Jeannette. MARY PICKELS I TRIBUNE-REVIEW

A Jeannette couple credited their visiting niece's puppy with alerting them to a fire in their home on Sunday.

Standing outside her relatives' home at 1014 N. Fourth St., Cailey Longo, 19, cuddled her dog, Molly.

“This dog saved my life,” Longo said.

Kristy McCardle and Matt Caldwell moved into the home on Dec. 27, and had begun doing some renovation work, they said.

Jeannette fire Chief Joe Matijevic said the cause of the fire, reported shortly before 2 p.m., is under investigation.

“The fire started in the attic,” he said.

Sections of the second floor ceiling had to be removed in order to reach the fire.

“There is minor smoke and water damage throughout. It is salvageable,” Matijevic said.

The home's utilities were shut off, and the American Red Cross was contacted to assist the couple, Matijevic said.

McCardle said she and Longo had stayed up late talking and were asleep on the second floor of the residence when Molly, a cocker spaniel/chihuahua mix, started barking.

Caldwell was downstairs, he said.

“She was going off. We said, ‘Shut up, we're sleeping,' ” McCardle said.

Neither woman smelled smoke.

“She was looking at the door and barking. She kept (nudging) my leg to try to wake me up. I turned over and saw orange coals under the closet door,” Longo said.

“I opened the closet, and the whole ceiling was in flames. We might have had the whole ceiling come down on us,” McCardle said.

The couple had no insurance on the property they were renting, McCardle said.

“It's a great house. It's gorgeous inside. We saw the potential,” she said.

She looked skyward as firefighters heaved items from the top floor onto the snowy ground below.

“I just saw my carpeting coming out the window. We just bought it. The second floor where we were sleeping is gone now,” she said.

Caldwell, who said he works in construction, said he injured his back and arm in a recent fall from a roof.

“If it were not for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all,” he said.

Longo said she had considered walking to her nearby home earlier.

“I'm glad I stayed,” she said.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com.

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