Puppy survives Rhea County house fire in storm shelter-turned-do - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Puppy survives Rhea County house fire in storm shelter-turned-doghouse

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RHEA COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

A Rhea County family lost their home in a fire overnight, but said they are still thankful for something. Their new puppy was found safe and alive after the fire.

The homeowners lost everything but the puppy, which was given to them as a gift just three days ago. The homeowners are a married couple in their 80's who have lived in that house for nearly 40 years.

While they now try and figure out where they'll sleep tonight, their new puppy, Jagger will be with them for comfort.

Puppy, Jagger is just a few weeks old. Paula and Benny May's son brought it home over the weekend.

"And to keep it warm, and keep it dry he put it in a storm shelter here behind the house," Paula May said.

Early Monday morning, just after 1 a.m., the May's home caught fire. Fire crews and paramedics rushed to the scene.

The May's were not home when the fire started.

"They were gone about 20 minutes, and when they returned the fire trucks were already here," said Asst. Fire Chief Chuck Kinney.

Paula said she knew immediately their house was gone.

"There was no putting it out, that's all there was to it," Paula said.

But their new puppy Jagger could still be saved.

"I said where's your puppy?" Paula said, "And he said oh my god it's in the storm shelter."

Their storm shelter is what kept Jagger safe from the flames and smoke destroying his family's home. After crews got the fire under control, the puppy was rescued and reunited with his owners.    

"It was shaking all over it knew something was wrong," Paula said, "I couldn't stand the thought of anything burning to death."

The Mays have been married for 63 years and have lived in that home for most of their married life. But on Monday, Paula and Benny slept in their car.

"I slept a little bit in the car, which wasn't very comfortable," Paula said.

While the family searches for a new home for them and Jagger, Asst. Fire Chief Chuck Kinney hopes the community will be able to help them.

"Well it's everybody's concern, where are they going to go? We did call in the American Red Cross for support," Asst. Chief Kinney said.

Chief Kinney believes the cause of the fire is electrical and will have an official ruling sometime this week.

The May's do have insurance and are working with the American Red Cross to get back on their feet. If you want to help, contact the Red Cross.

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