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Officials: Fire that damaged 3 Kutztown homes caused by resident falling asleep while food was cooking

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 02:32:21 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 09 2013 05:37:10 PM CST

Fire in Kutztown

Kutztown, Pa. -

A barking dog is credited for saving several lives, after a raging fire at a twin home on Wentz Street Kutztown on Saturday morning. The fire injured two people and killed two family pets.

According to the Kutztown Fire Department, David Heller and Mandy Graff suffered minor burn and smoke inhalation injuries. Arndt said Heller may have been attempting to save his dog, when he sustained injuries.

"Unfortunately, a dog perished in the fire. I think he might have been trying to get the dog and alert his girlfriend on what was going on," said Troy Arndt, Chief of the Kutztown Fire Department.

Arndt said three homes were damaged. One of those is occupied by Shirley Ream, who said the heat burned some of her siding. Ream was sleeping when the fire broke out.

"Evening comes 8-8:30. I am ready for bed," Ream said.

Ream said she was awakened by her biggest fear.

"I am deadly afraid of fires," Ream said.

It was around midnight when her dog started barking and a fireman showed up at her doorstep.

"One of the fireman said we should get out. We grabbed our clothing, we had our PJs on, a house coat and slippers," Ream said.

Ream then headed for her son's home, four houses down.

"We spent the night with my son," Ream said.

When she went outside later that morning, she quickly learned that others had lost much more than sleep and siding.

"I feel sorry for them. A home you can replace. A body you can't," Ream said.

Ream said there were two dogs living in the home where the fire started. According to Angst, one of the dogs there awakened the residents.

"The black lab, her name was Snickers…She didn't make it. I feel sorry," Ream said.

It's unclear if the barking dog was the dog that died in the fire.

Another neighbor's cat also didn't survive.

But two other dogs managed to get out safely.

Firefighters said a man living at the home where the fire started was cooking dinner and fell asleep when flames erupted.

"If you are gonna cook, make sure you stay awake. Don't leave anything unattended on the stove or in the oven…Next thing you know, you're dozing off and things happen," Arndt said.