House fire destroys home and kills four dogs - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

House fire destroys home and kills four dogs

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Sequatchie Fire Dept. firefighters finish extinguishing the flames Thursday. WRCBtv.com photo Sequatchie Fire Dept. firefighters finish extinguishing the flames Thursday. WRCBtv.com photo
WHITWELL, TN (WRCB) - Volunteers with the Sequatchie Fire Department said they lost the Whitwell home and the four dogs inside due to the weather. Problems started with a frozen fire hydrant, water freezing inside the hoses and turning to ice before it could put out the flames.

"It hurts us when we don't get to save something. We feel like we let them down," said Asst. Fire Chief Ronnie Parker, "We train every day to deal with situations, but sometimes mother nature throws things at us that we really can't train for."

Firefighters believe the fire started after homeowners put heating lamps next to their dogs to keep them warm overnight. Temperatures were in the single digits overnight and for most of the day Thursday.

"They put out three of them heating lamps for their dogs to keep them warm," Parker said, "And we can just figure either something got too close to them, or it knocked over or something."

The fire started around 4:00am. The husband and wife woke up to smoke alarms and got out safely, but couldn't get their dogs to leave the house.

Fire crews had trouble fighting back the flames once they arrived on scene, saying the water was freezing on the rubble that had already fallen before getting to the hot spots.

Parker spoke to the homeowners who are devastated by the loss of their pets.

"They were more concerned over the dogs than the house," Parker said, "He's a real animal lover. He rescued the dogs from the Humane Society and he felt like he let them down."

The couple is receiving help from the Red Cross and staying at a Marion County hotel for now.

Fire crews said everything inside their home was lost by the fire.

Sequatchie Fire Department had help from Whitwell, Jasper, Crossroads and West Valley Fire Departments in the freezing temperatures.

"They've done well in the cold weather," Parker said, "They've had gear froze on them and they battled through the pain of being froze and they've done a good job."

Firefighters set up a meeting with Tennessee American System to see if there's any way to redesign the fire hydrants to keep the water from freezing.

Parker said if they could get the water to be drained out from underneath, it might keep the water from settling around the valve and freezing the rod shut.
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