CLEARWATER — By the time firefighters got to 2998 Lake Vista Drive on Thursday night, flames were shooting from the rear of the house.
The Christmas Eve blaze, called in shortly before 8:30 p.m., was large.
Officials quickly declared it a multi-alarm fire. Several extra units were dispatched, 14 in all, and dozens of firefighters.
Luckily, no one was home.
But as firefighters prepared to do a search of the 21/2-story, wood-frame house, they heard a noise.
"We went in the window," said Lt. Norm Jernigan of Clearwater Fire Rescue. "We weren't sure if it was a person."
Instead, as firefighters made their way to the home, they found a dog that was unconscious and in a cage.
"He looked lifeless," Jernigan said.
Two firefighters carried the dog, a black Lab named Duke, back out the window. When they got outside, they used a special pet oxygen mask to resuscitate him.
There has been a push in recent years for emergency vehicles to be equipped with the reusable masks, which are snout-shaped and can fit all types of dogs and cats.
"We gave him oxygen and … he came to," Jernigan said.
It took firefighters 25 minutes to put the fire out, said Elizabeth Watts, the city's public safety spokeswoman.
Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire. A damage estimate wasn't available.
Duke's owner, Frank Brinson, arrived home shortly after firefighters had put the flames out.
Brinson said he went to church about 6 p.m., then had dinner with a relative later.
"I got here and I found this," he said.
The commotion didn't seem to faze Duke.
Within an hour, he was running around and licking faces.
"The dog is okay," Watts said. "It was a happy ending."
Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.