Heroic dog saves Bradenton family from house fire

Manatee County

BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – A dog saves a Bradenton family from a devastating house fire, but sadly didn’t survive.

Early Tuesday morning a house burst into flames without warning, that’s when the dog sprung into action.

As Leroy Butler walks around his now former home, its obvious this fire was intense.

“That used to be my kayak,” he says as he points at a charred, warped piece of blue plastic.

But take a peek inside and it becomes truly clear. No one could’ve survived this. The ceiling is missing, there’s twisted metal and absolutely nothing is distinguishable in the black mess.

“That’s the couch, that’s where I was standing,” he said.

At around 1:30 Tuesday morning a fire broke out in the attic at this home, spreading through the ceiling.

“The smoke detector got melted. It was disintegrated, it was already burned up, it was burned up with the ceiling, the whole ceiling was in flames,” said Butler.

At that moment their beloved dog Zippy got to work. The Jack Russell Terrier immediately alerted the family. They adopted the dog two years ago from the Humane Society of Manatee County.

“He was back and forth, he went from bed to bed, back and forth,” recalled Butler.

With the family awake, Butler was able to get his two kids and his father out of the house.

“I went in the living room and the couch was on fire and then I noticed I looked up in the ceiling and the ceiling was engulfed in flames,” said Butler. “[Zippy] did his job, that’s all I can say.”

Suddenly, the roof gave way, and the home became a blazing hellscape.

“The hallway and the floor and the living room was all on fire so there was no way for him to run out,” said Butler. “He was only a short small dog so there was nowhere for him to go. He was like stuck in the room.”

Zippy was trapped and soon died from smoke inhalation.

“I just tried to turn around and go back and go up the porch and go in there and it was just all black it was too hot,” he said.

Sadly, all pictures of the dog were destroyed, but his memory will live on since this family was given a second chance.

“He’s one person that I couldn’t save and one person that I couldn’t get to,” said Butler. “I guess he’s going to doggie heaven.”

The family held a quiet burial for Zippy on Tuesday morning, and it will take some time before they get a new dog.

Fire investigators say the fire started in the attic, but they’re working to determine the cause.


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