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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Labrador wakes owner, saves him from house fire


After collecting belongings from his fire-damaged house in Spokane, Mark Anderson pets his dog, Midnight, who saved his life Wednesday morning by waking him up during a fire.
Thomas Clouse Staff writer

Mark Anderson answered a newspaper ad three years ago for a free puppy that needed a good home.

Since then, Anderson’s female black Labrador has chewed through a couch, a window sill, two cell phones and two carpets in his home at 1623 E. Garland Ave.

“So she’s cost me about a grand,” Anderson said as he stroked Midnight, who answers to Middy. “She’s a goat. She’ll eat anything.”

On Wednesday, all of Middy’s debts were paid in full. She saved her 39-year-old master from a house fire at 8:03 a.m. Wednesday.

“He would have been dead if it hadn’t been for his dog. Absolutely,” fire investigator Capt. Mike Zambryski said. “He realizes that.”

Anderson said he fell asleep on his couch Tuesday night watching David Letterman on TV. The next thing he heard was Middy barking.

“I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of me. I realized I was in the middle of a fire,” Anderson said. “I was going to sleep right through it.”

Anderson tried to take a breath but choked on the smoke. “I saw a light spot. That’s where I headed.”

It was a window at the southeast corner of the house. Anderson recently put in a new kitchen and a bathroom. He also replaced all the old windows, which no longer opened.

Anderson said he ran and opened the new window, pushed out the screen and jumped out. Middy followed him.

“I’m so lucky to be alive. It’s just starting to hit me,” Anderson said two hours after the fire destroyed most of the home.

“Thank God I didn’t put her out this morning.”

Battalion Chief Bob Green said the fire was caused by curtains that were next to a baseboard heater.

Anderson said he had a smoke detector, but Zambryski didn’t know if it was working.

“Obviously, the smoke detector didn’t wake him up,” Zambryski said.

As crews checked for hot spots in the house’s insulation, Middy barked at a firefighter to throw a stick.

“Good girl, Middy,” Anderson said. “You can have anything you want.”