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Lightning sparks house fire; two pets rescued

From left, John Shaw, Jacob Seitz, Amber Clark and Gabby Hopkins reacted quickly to save two pets from a burning home in Deltaville. (Photo by Kristee Norwood)

by Tom Chillemi

Katelin Morris has lived on Porpoise Cove Lane in Deltaville for two years, but it wasn’t until last week she met some more of her neighbors—through a twist of fate.

On August 12, about 7 p.m., lightning struck a tree near the Morris home. The bolt traveled down the tree, jumped to an 8-foot-high chain-link fence, and traveled along the fence to the eaves in the roof of the house and set the attic on fire, said Jimmy Walden, chief of the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department of Deltaville.

Gabby Hopkins and Amber Clark were driving by and stopped when they noticed smoke.

Along came John Shaw and Joshua Seitz, who wondered why the girls had stopped in the road. A house was on fire!

“I knew she (the homeowner) had a dog and I could hear it barking,” said Seitz, 20, who lives with his parents four doors away from Morris.

Hopkins, 17, had already called 911.

The four people sprang into action.

Shaw, who was wearing flip-flops, eventually had to throw all his weight against the front door to break it open. Morris’ Great Dane, “Empire,” quickly ran out the front door as smoke rolled through the opening.

They yelled to see if anyone was in the house. Seitz saw a cat, which took off running to a back room, which was next to the fire. Seitz pursued the cat. “On the way back there I could see fire across the ceiling and I could see the sky in places,” he said. The cat had run under the bed and Seitz crawled under to get him.

Hopkins took the cat named “Huckle” to her car and tried to calm it.

Meanwhile, Empire tried to run away and pulled Shaw with him through the woods and into a field. “He’s bigger than a mini-horse,” said Seitz.

Coming home
For homeowner Katelin Morris, she was on her way home from work and was passed by an emergency vehicle. She followed the flashing lights as the truck turned onto her road. A short time later she would see fire trucks in her yard. Her heart sank.

She ran to the fire scene yelling “My animals are in there!”

The four who had risked their lives told Morris they had gotten her pets out safely.

“As long as I knew they were out of the fire I was not worried about anything else,” said Morris this week. “I’m forever indebted to them. I don’t think my pets would have made it. They are like my children. I would have been completely devastated if they had not made it.”

Her life is forever changed by a twist of fate and the kindness of strangers.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 08.20.2014

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