Man who escaped fire: ‘When the dogs started barking, I got up’

Dog alerts east Macon family to burning house, one person suffered burns

lfabian@macon.comMay 6, 2013 

Lady, left, and Snoop woke up residents in a burning house on Maynard Street in Macon early Monday morning.

LIZ FABIAN — lfabian@macon.com

Man who escaped fire: ‘When the dogs started barking, I got up’

Roger “Gene” Phillips has never been more thankful for his dachshunds, Lady and Snoop.

While he was sleeping at 6 a.m. Monday, the dogs started barking and would not stop even after being told to be quiet.

“When the dogs started barking, I got up,” said Phillips, 60, who found the couch and the living room in flames.

The house at 1248 Maynard St. had two smoke detectors donated from the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department, but they were on the kitchen table.

One didn’t have a battery and the other had been disconnected, said Sgt. Ben Gleaton, a fire investigator.

“I had planned on getting some batteries,” Altenia Lockett said. “I had taken them down so I could get some batteries.”

She thought the dogs were barking at her daughter, who delivers papers, but soon realized it wasn’t her they were upset about.

“We said, ‘Shut up,’ telling them to be quiet, but they wouldn’t be quiet,” Lockett said. “And that’s when Gene jumped up and said, ‘The house is on fire!’ ”

By the time firefighters arrived, flames had spread to the attic.

Phillips and Lockett made it out safely, but when he went back for his cousin in the back room, Snoop followed and did not come out.

“The firemen got him out. He was in the bathroom when they went back in there,” Lockett said.

The front living room and porch were damaged in the blaze, said Gleaton, who is investigating the cause.

Phillips, who suffered minor burns to his back, was treated and released from Coliseum Hospital a few hours after the blaze.

He had been having some electrical problems behind that couch, Gleaton learned after talking to him at the hospital.

Gleaton found the smoke detectors and recognized them as ones the fire department distributes free of charge.

“We put those things in for people, but it doesn’t do any good if they don’t keep batteries in them,” he said.

Snoop and Lady set off their own vocal sirens when The Telegraph arrived on scene.

The two of them together might drown out a working smoke alarm.

Snoop’s high-pitched howls offset Lady’s deeper, more menacing bark. But, she’s about twice the size of Snoop.

“She used to be little, but when we got her spayed, she just blowed up,” Lockett said. “I’m just real thankful I had them. I tell you, I wouldn’t get rid of them for nothing.”

To contact Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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