Dog alerts Kennewick family to fire danger

By Paula Horton, Herald staff writerFebruary 24, 2010 

KENNEWICK — Dalmatians might be known as firehouse dogs, but a Kennewick family will take their 3-year-old dachshund over the spotted black and white dog any day, especially after JoJo saved their home from a potentially damaging fire early Sunday.

The light brown "wiener dog" with short stubby legs is being credited for trying to shove 11-year-old Kalen Huntley out of her bed and alerting her parents to an electrical fire smoldering behind an outlet on her bedroom wall.

"Our dog saved our house," said Diane Urquhart, who lives in a trailer at the Chinook Mobile Home Park with her husband, Colt, and four of their five children.

The couple and three of the kids were home when the outlet in Kalen's room apparently started overheating around 1 a.m. Sunday.

Kalen was asleep in her room with JoJo, who usually sleeps with Kalen until her parents go to bed, Diane Urquhart said.

That night, however, JoJo kept coming out of Kalen's room to bug the adults, but they couldn't figure out what he wanted. He had been fed and had already gone outside, Urquhart said.

"He came out to see us four times, then kept going back into our daughter's room," she said.

Urquhart said JoJo's ears usually tell his story -- if he's happy, hungry or done something wrong. But this time was different.

"These ears we did not recognize," she said. "And his face, if a dog can look worried, he looked worried."

Urquhart heard Kalen stirring and decided to see what was going on, and when she walked in her room she could smell an extremely strong burning rubber smell and saw JoJo on Kalen's bed.

"He had his heinie against the wall and was shoving his nose against her side trying to wake her up and shove her out of the bed," Urquhart said.

They called 911, woke everybody up and quickly got out of the house, taking with them the family's two cats and JoJo.

There was no smoke in Kalen's room, but Urquhart said the wall at the head of her bed was hot. Firefighters told the family the outlet, which had a lamp and alarm clock plugged into it, was minutes away from catching fire, Urquhart said.

There was one small puff of smoke right before power was cut off to the home and the temperature on the wall went down as soon as the power was off, she said.

The next day, they took the outlet off and the whole back of it was burned, she said.

Thanks to JoJo, the overheated outlet didn't have time to spark flames or fill the home with smoke and only the outlet was damaged.

The Urquharts saved JoJo when he was a puppy and was found drifting in the water at Two Rivers Park, and now "he saved us," Urquhart said.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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