A hero dog has been hailed a real-life Lassie after saving its owners from a caravan fire – by BARKING to wake them up.
Paul Licence, 48, was fast asleep when his pet Simba raised the alarm at around 4.30am on Tuesday 20 October.
He was stunned when he woke to see his holiday caravan consumed by flames on his driveway – just yards away from his bedroom window.
He grabbed his wife Sue, 56, and grandchildren Stephanie, 14, and Keitan, nine, and the terrified family ran to safety through the back garden before dialling 999.
Firefighters arrived at the semi-detached house in Westminster Street, in Alvaston, Derbys., within 15 minutes and managed to stop the spread of the flames.
Paul says if his beloved Chow-Chow had not warned them of the danger they would have been killed in the blaze.
He added: “If it wasn’t for that dog we might not be alive.
“He started barking, going really mad. It was really lucky that Simba was so lively and woke us up. It could have been fatal for us and for the family next door.
“I’m so grateful to that little dog.”
Wife Sue said: “When we looked out we could see the gate was open. We never leave it open because we are worried about Simba running out.
“We are totally gutted. We went on holiday to see Paul’s sister in Yorkshire three times this summer but this puts an end to that. I’m angry. Why would anyone do that?
“The flames were huge and the heat was really strong.
“The scary thing is that the house could have caught fire and then it could have been much worse.”
The caravan cost the family £1,400 and was only insured while it was on the road.
Next door neighbour, Yasminata Ali, 55, got up to go to the bathroom and saw the flames. She said: “I could see flash, flash, flash through the window.
“My daughter woke up and I shouted to her ‘your car’s on fire’. Then the whole street came out to see what was going on.
“My husband ran outside to move the car away from the fire. It melted the light cover and panels on the left doors.”
Forensics teams from Derbyshire Police and Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service are investigating the incident.
A spokeswoman for Derbyshire Police said: “We are treating it as arson and will continue with the investigation.”