DOWNHAM MARKET: Barking dog saves family as kitchen fire takes hold
A pint-size dog has been branded a hero for barking and saving her family from a house fire.
Robert Armsby and Louisa Hawkins praised Princess the chihuahua for waking them up during the early hours of Sunday morning after flames destroyed the kitchen of their home in Railway Road, Downham.
Thanks to Princess’ barks, Mrs Hawkins was able to get out with her nine-year-old daughter Charlotte.
But Mr Armsby returned into thick smoke three or four times in a bid to find Princess’ missing puppy, Toby. He was later found hiding behind a sofa by firefighters.
Mrs Hawkins, who also has a 15-year-old son called Elliott who was not in the house, said: “Princess is a heroine. She deserves a dog award.
Mr Armsby, who works as a quality controller for James Mackle apple processors in Wisbech, said: “We think the dog saved us.”
Mrs Hawkins was the first awake and smelled smoke.
She then woke Mr Armsby who went down to investigate and discovered the blaze.
Mrs Hawkins was able to get her daughter out and called the emergency services while Mr Armsby tried to find missing Toby.
Mr Armsby, who was later taken to hospital for smoke inhaliation, said: “It was burning really badly. The flames were up towards the ceiling.”
Firefighters from Downham, Lynn and Outwell put out the blaze by 2.50pm.
Officers say the fire was sparked by the toaster accidentally being set off by items surrounding it.
The blaze has gutted the kitchen, which contained photographs of Mrs Hawkins’ late husband Mark and the family’s passports.
This has forced them to cancel a visit to Disneyland Paris later this month. They are instead spending a week at Butlins in Skegness.
The rest of the house, which is owned by Sanctuary Housing Association, has been damaged by smoke.
They are staying at The Crown Hotel in Downham and have thanked friends and family, including Mrs Hawkins’ mother Elizabeth Smith and her partner Mark Elvin, for their help. They have received donations of clothes and furniture and have also been touched by a fundraising auction.
Mr Armsby said: “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us through this difficult period.”
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Weather for King's Lynn
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North east