A family dog trapped inside a burning house on Jingle Pot Road early Saturday emerged alive from the house hours later as an excavator began taking apart the destroyed house.
Fire investigators suspect the blaze was caused by an electrical malfunction in the attic.
Six fire engines were called at about 1:30 a.m. to put out the blaze in the two-storey house.
While the owners got out – smoke alarms alerted them to the fire – their dog Daisy, an English Mastiff, was trapped inside.
Doug Bell, chief fire investigator with Nanaimo Fire Rescue, said the dog initially came out of the burning house with its owners, but when the man ran back inside to grab some clothes, the dog followed and did not come out again.
Everyone assumed Daisy perished in the blaze, but about 11 hours later, when an excavator was removing the collapsed second floor so investigators could get inside, the dog emerged from wherever it was trapped while trying to escape the fire.
“To see anybody come out of that was very, very surprising,” said Bell. “We’ve never seen anything come out of a fire that bad.”
Scott Bradd, the owner of the house, said Daisy’s miraculous survival made a tragic day a little brighter.
“We were all ecstatic, screaming and yelling at the excavator guy,” he said. “She’s a 200-pound dog that everybody loves.”
Neighbour Blake Erickson, who was up watching the fire and the aftermath, said everyone was waiting for the excavator to uncover the dog’s remains when it ran out, soot covering its normally blond fur coat.
“When she was alive, it was really surreal,” said Erickson. “It was just the most amazing thing. She was pretty happy to see her owners. It makes you take stock of what really counts.”
The dog was taken to a vet, who said the dog was fine except for minor smoke inhalation and a couple minor burns.
Bell credits working smoke alarms for saving the occupants’ lives – the fire was breaking through the roof just after they got out.
He said the owners were fully insured and have a place to stay, but all of their belongings are destroyed.
Bradd said the couple started a major renovation of the house, originally an old miner’s cottage, about seven years ago and he had done all of the interior finishing himself, including using wood from the original structure to make cabinets.