Wiggy the Dachshund has been hailed a hero after saving the lives of nine people when a massive blaze broke out over the road, engulfing the homes of two families.
“Superstar” Wiggy woke up owner Doug Gillan in the middle of the night when the fire began in leafy Ashtead, Surrey,
The fire, which began in a garden shed, had already spread to the back of the house of Javier and Elana Aldaz, where they live with their three children, when Wiggy raised the alarm.
The blaze quickly spread to the back of a neighbouring property where Robin and Amanda Walsh live with their two children.
Both families were asleep, but 58-year-old Mr Gillan quickly ran over to both houses and banged on their doors along with another neighbour.
Mr Gillan described how the flames were visible over the top of the properties, with embers falling into the street.
He said: “My dog, Wiggy, woke me and I didn’t know what was going on.
“He barks at anything and I thought it was a fox.
“I then thought it was some storm, but saw the fire go high up and heard the crackle you get with a bonfire.
“I quickly got my dressing gown on and went to bang on their doors with one hand while calling the fire service with the other.
“If he hadn’t started barking then you don’t know what could have happened but we had all the kids out just before the fire service turned up and the windows blasted through.
“The fire service got here very quickly.”
An investigation into the cause of the blaze in the early hours of Thursday May 11th is ongoing, but it’s understood to have been started by an electrical fault.
Four fire crews were sent from Leatherhead, Epsom, Banstead and Woking and the blaze took 16 firefighters two hours to get under control. Crews stayed at the scene until 4am.
Robin said: “It was a miracle really and the dog waking up Doug probably saved our lives – what a superstar.
“It’s all very raw at the moment, but we got out just before the windows were blasted, so it could have been a lot worse.
“Our own dog Sparkle was still fast asleep and my son had to carry her out so it was lucky that Wiggy started barking.
“The fire service were magnificent as well and they deserve a lot of credit, especially Leatherhead White Watch.”
Jenny Morgan, who looked after the two families’ children once they were evacuated, said: “I could hear something and couldn’t work out what it was.
“I looked out the front window but I thought something was banging the bins.
“Then I saw flashes of embers going over the houses into the road so went to the back.”
Jenny, 57, said fire crews had to return to the scene today because one roof was still smouldering.
She added: “I quickly came out into the road and once the fire service turned up all the kids came into mine as they were shaken and obviously they must have been in quite a bit of shock.”
Meanwhile, both families and their children, aged between three and 12, have had to leave their homes and stay in nearby hotels while the damage is repaired.
Javier Aldaz, 38, said: “It’s hard to feel relieved that you are all alright when half your house is ruined but we are all alive because of the dog barking and waking up the neighbours.
“It felt like a long time before the fire engines arrived but it wasn’t really that long.
“You’re just left standing there, having just woken up, seeing the fire rip through.”