A 1-year-old puppy-size bundle of fur is credited with alerting a sleeping family to fire spreading through their Clearwater home early this morning.
The incessant barking of the family's Shih Tzu, Scooter, awoke the family and gave them time to escape a fire that started in a vehicle parked in the driveway of their home on Byram Drive.
"She woke us up. She started barking," said Roberto Segovia, 18-year-old son of homeowners Ocsar and Celsa Segovia.
"The dog usually barks and we were just like minding our own business, but she kept on barking until we woke up just to see what's happening," he said as friends and neighbors helped board up the home severely damaged by the fire.
His father saw the glow of flames and got the rest of the family moving to safety.
All three people along with Scooter were outside when firefighters arrived about 5:30 a.m., Clearwater Fire and Rescue said.
The fire started in a 2001 Ford Expedition in the driveway parked about 4 feet from the house and spread to the attic, the fire department said. It took firefighters about 40 minutes to put out the flames.
The car was not running, though the family used it the day before, Roberto Segovia said. It ran fine then.
Firefighters had to pull down parts of the ceiling to get at flames roaring through the attic. The interior is a shambles with ash, ruined ceiling material and water, Roberto Segovia said.
The house in uninhabitable and the American Red Cross is helping the family find a place to live.
Roberto Segovia described the family pet firefighters hailed as a hero as a tiny furball.
"It's just all fur," he said. "It moves."