WAMEGO, Kan. (WIBW) -- Fire officials say a Wamego man’s dog helped him get out of his burning home but unfortunately, the frightened pet didn’t make it out of the fire. Authorities say the blaze was intentionally set.
Crews were called to a home in the 300 block of Poplar Street at 3:30 AM Friday.
“When we arrived, mainly just the front porch area was involved in fire at that point in time. Fire crews got on scene early and pretty much contained it to that portion of the house,” explained Wamego Fire Chief Phil Stultz. “It’s pretty obvious that it started on the front porch or right near the front door.”
“The whole front of the house was just in flames and then the smoke- there was so much smoke I can’t even begin to tell you how much there was,” said Jordan Borth, a neighbor who heard sirens and went outside to investigate.
Several local agencies responded to help extinguish the flames, including members of Wamego Fire, Louisville Fire, St. George Fire, Pottawatomie County EMS, Pottawatomie County Sheriff, St. Marys Police, and Wamego Police.
One person was home at the time and was startled awake by his dog barking, allowing him to make it out safely.
“He was able to get out thanks to his trusted companion, the dog that he had in there that alerted him while he was asleep. He was able to wake up, heard the sound of the smoke alarms inside and was able to exit through the back side of the house, however, the dog didn’t make it through. The dog is deceased, died of smoke inhalation. But a very good friend to have a dog like that,” Chief Stultz told WIBW.
According to officials, the resident, Eddie Neuberger, had his dog by the collar and was trying to lead him out of the house but the dog was scared and Neuberger had trouble getting his pet to follow him.
"Dogs react differently in these situations, just like people do sometimes," Stultz said.
Unable to see or breathe, Neuberger let go of his pet and went outside to get some air. He tried to go back inside to find his dog but by that point, too much smoke had built up in the structure and his attempt was unsuccessful.
The Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office has been brought in to help with the case.
On Friday afternoon, Wamego police revealed that the fire is being investigated as an aggravated arson "due to evidence recovered" at the scene. The arson is considered "aggravated" because the residence was occupied at the time the fire was intentionally set.
Officials did not shed any light on a possible motive.
Anyone with information concerning this crime is encouraged to contact the Wamego Police Department at (785) 456-9553 or the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at (800) KS-CRIME (800-572-7463).
The home sustained smoke and water damage throughout and the front of the house was destroyed. The amount of loss is undetermined at this time, officials said.
The fire chief did not know the breed of Neuberger's dog. Neighbors described the dog as a puppy who appeared to be a Labrador mix.
“The dog really came through for his owner today,” Stultz said.
“I think it’s pretty unbelievable. Animals, they can tell when something is wrong. And they have a bond with us. They know more than we do sometimes,” Jordan Borth said about her neighbor’s pet.