A St. Johnsbury homeowner’s willingness to care for a friend’s dog was greatly rewarded just after midnight Tuesday when the dog alerted her to a fire burning her home in time for her to escape. Elda Pessini’s residence at 14 Shadow Drive was destroyed by the fire, but she and the dog got out safely and made it to a neighbor’s house. Pessini’s son-in-law Gary Allard, of Waterford, said it was fortunate that Pessini had taken on the dog-sitting job. If not for the presence of the dog to rouse her from her sleep, Allard said, she may not have responded to the smoke detectors because of some difficulty hearing. The first firefighters on the scene, Troy Darby and Brenden Greaves, found heavy fire in the ranch-style home that was spreading from the garage, which is part of the residential structure. They also learned the home had been evacuated. An investigation conducted by Vermont State Police did not reveal the source of the fire. It is not considered suspicious. The fire likely began in the garage, and Chief Reed said he believes it had been burning inside the garage for a while before firefighters were alerted. The home’s furnace is in the basement level but is not located in the garage.
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