A dog and a smoke alarm saved the day for the occupants of two central Nanaimo houses Sunday.
The first incident happened just after midnight when a detached shed next to a rancher on Pheasant Terrace caught fire and damaged the exterior of the house.
Ennis Mond, fire investigator with Nanaimo Fire Rescue, said cause of the fire is still under investigation, but it is not considered suspicious.
A neighbour discovered the blaze after getting up to see why his dog was barking.
If the dog had not alerted the man to the blaze, fire crews could have been dealing with a house fire as well as shed fire, said Mond.
The shed was heavily damaged and the house had three cracked windows and minor burns to its wood siding from the heat of the fire.
There were also three explosions associated with the blaze – a nine-kilogram propane cylinder, a paint can and a small butane cylinder were destroyed.
The elderly couple who lived in the house were fully insured.
The second fire happened shortly after 7 a.m. on Seafield Crescent.
Sofa cushions and a cotton shirt had been placed on an in-floor electric heater, said Mond, and when the heater turned on, the items caught fire.
The smoke alarm alerted the tenant and three friends who had spent the night and they attempted to put the fire out with pots and pans before the renter threw the burning materials out the window.
All four were taken to hospital and treated for minor smoke inhalation – the man who picked up the flaming materials also had minor burns to his hands – and then released.
“The smoke alarm worked and that’s what saved them,” said Mond, adding it’s a good lesson to keep combustibles away from heaters.
The two-storey house had fire damage in the living room and smoke damage to its upper floor, but the renter returned to the house after being released from hospital.