By Larry Kline/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
A dog possibly saved a Havre man's life on Saturday.
Gary Peterson was asleep in a back room of his apartment when his dog, Snoopy, woke him, Peterson said.
The rear of the house was on fire. Peterson and the dog got out safely.
Another man was in a downstairs apartment and escaped safely after a smoke detector went off, Havre firefighters said. The alarm in the upstairs apartment, where Peterson was sleeping, had not gone off yet.
Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the fire, which heavily damaged the house in the 1300 block of Fourth Street.
The flames left Gary and his wife, Jessica, homeless and destroyed all of their belongings, Gary Peterson said.
Jessica was at work at Bi-Mart at the time of the fire. Gary is an employee of Northern Montana Hospital. The couple had lived in the house for about a year and a half. They did not have renter's insurance, he said.
Fire officials would not identify the man who lived in the downstairs apartment.
Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said firefighters received the call at 1:23 p.m.. It took them about 90 minutes to extinguish the flames and clean up the scene. He said the cause is unknown so far.
"That is still under investigation," Sheppard said. "It appears that it most likely started in the exterior, on or under a wood deck in the back of the house."
He said he has not yet talked to any of the house's residents but knew they had accommodations for the weekend.
Neighbors said at the scene Saturday that they had heard an explosion. Sheppard said the natural gas line running into the house had been burned through and was a possible cause of the explosion.
Flames caused extensive damage to the rear of the house, Sheppard said.
Firefighters put water on the blaze at the rear of the house and then entered the residence through the front and extinguished the fire. Some firefighters got onto the roof of the house and used axes to get to the flames that had reached the attic.
Arson is not suspected, fire Capt. Todd Solomon said today.
Gary Peterson said Saturday he was thankful for Snoopy's nose.
"She may not be a good guard dog, but she can smell fire," he said.