WINTER HAVEN — Animal lovers in Polk County likely developed a much greater appreciation for their local fire rescue team after Polk County firefighters saved a German Shepherd puppy from a deadly blaze.
The fire was a major one, destroying one home and heavily damaging a second one on Feb. 13 in the Inwood neighborhood near Winter Haven.
Fortunately, no one was home at either house, and no injuries were reported — including the puppy. And the puppy was fortunate that the fire rescue crew got there in time, because both houses were damaged from the flames.
Around 2 p.m., Polk Fire Rescue crews were called to respond to a blaze at a home on Westwood Avenue. The crew found the fire outside the home, and they reported that the blaze had already swept over half of the house. A neighboring home on Westwood Avenue was also in danger from being in such close proximity to the flames and the raging heat.
“Crews began fighting the fire and were able to save one of the two homes,” noted Lauren Lengyel, communications specialist for the Polk County Board of Commissioners, in her report on the fire.
As the fire rescue crew began to search the second home for possible victims, Capt. Clay Hamric, Engineer Chris Lowe and Firefighter Ryan Reed found the puppy inside the house, and rescued the dog before it suffered any injuries. The puppy was reported to be good condition.
The Winter Haven and Auburndale fire departments provided assistance during this incident.
The county is still trying to learn who owns the two properties, and the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, either.
Lengyel noted that when it is, that information will be forwarded to the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Photos of the structures and more of the puppy can be found at Polk County Fire Rescue’s Facebook page.
The county had also notified the American Red Cross to assist anyone who was living at the home and may now need temporary housing assistance.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Koby’s New Home”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.