VANCOUVER, Wash. - A woman and eight dogs were able to escape a house fire in Vancouver Monday morning with the help of a neighbor.
Fire crews responded to a call in the 1100 block of East 29th Street just before 5 a.m. and found the fire tough to fight due to “significant content which slowed the response," according to a Vancouver Fire Department spokesperson.
Neighbor Jack Watts said he "heard someone yelling and screaming for help," grabbed his shoes and ran to the home. He said the woman and one dog were already outside the house.
Watts said flames blocked entry into the back of the home but he was able to get in a front entrance and started getting the dogs out the front door until he he began having a hard time breathing.
"I just started throwing them out the door. By the legs and by whatever I could grab them by, they were running around like crazy," he said. "I had to get out of there."
Watts said he thought there were six dogs but there may have been as many as eight.
"I thought maybe I was missing one," Watts said. "There was nothing else I could do about it. It was already smokey, I couldn't breathe."
He said the interior of the home looked like something right out of a TV show about hoarding.
"It's way bad," he said. "It's straight off the TV show 'Hoarders.'"
Firefighters said they could hardly walk around inside the house because there were so many piles everywhere.
Seven dogs were rescued and one was missing but later found. Animal control is assisting with housing the dogs.
The woman said she was woken up by the power going out in her home. "The power went out and she was going around with candles trying to see," Rick Klages, the woman's husband said.
But Klages said when she detected smoke and went to the back of the home, she found it was fully ablaze. "She realized there's way more smoke than there would be from a candle and when she went back - the back of the house, it was engulfed," Klages said.
One dog remains missing, Klages said. He said he was at work when he found out about the fire. "A guy I work with called me said "your house is on the news you gotta get down here.""
Firefighters had the blaze under control by 5:30 a.m. So far, a cause has not been determined and an investigation team is looking into what started the fire.