Policeman forces door open, saves dog from Durham house fire

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A fire destroyed a home in south Durham on Tuesday afternoon, but a quick-thinking policeman saved a dog inside the home.

CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGES OF THE OFFICER, DOG HE SAVED AND THE BURNED HOME

At 1:37 p.m. the Durham Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire at 503 Valleymede Drive.

The fire was reported by an off-duty Durham Police Officer.

Corporal Dante Ferrell was on a lunch break, noticed the smoke, and investigated.  He immediately reported a house fire with heavy fire involvement.

Ferrell saw a dog inside the house near the front door, so he forced open the door. The dog, a Goldendoodle named Griffin, ran out uninjured.

“I looked, the dog’s looking at me, I’m looking at him, and I figured I better go ahead and try to help this dog get out of here since no one was obviously home,” he said. “Then I was thinking what if this dog is vicious and he ends up biting me while I’m trying to help him out? But it was the right thing to do.”

When firefighters arrived they reported a two-story home with heavy fire along the roof line and fire on the exterior rear of the house.

The fire was under control in about 20 minutes, but it caused heavy damage to the house.  There was damage to the vinyl siding on the neighboring homes. There were no injuries and the American Red Cross was not requested.

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The cause of the fire was ashes from a grill that were placed in a yard waste container.  The homeowner felt the ashes in the morning and thought they were cool, but ashes may seem cool on the surface and still be hot in the center.

This type of fire is not uncommon.  There are 5-10 such fires each year in Durham and there are hundreds more throughout the country.  If you are going to place ashes in a container it is best to wet them down and stir them, always use a metal container with a metal lid, and never place them within a few feet of other combustible materials such as the siding on the house.

If you are going to place ashes in a container it is best to wet them down and stir them, always use a metal container with a metal lid, and never place them within a few feet of other combustible materials such as the siding on the house.

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