Texas Firefighters Rescue 13 Puppies, Dogs From Fire

Jan. 13--Victoria Penny kneeled beside her 13 squirming puppies, her red-rimmed eyes gazing toward the smoke-filled house she escaped from less than an hour before.

Penny and the puppies had survived the fire that scorched the home's garage and filled the house with its fumes; the puppies' mother was not so fortunate, Penny said.

"The whole house was full of smoke," she said.

She paused between words.

It was the combination of it all, she said: the puppies' mother; the charred garage; the escape from danger.

"The whole thing," she said.

The Lubbock Fire Department responded to the scene on the 2000 block of 46th Street just before 2 p.m., said Capt. Steve Couch.

They arrived to a garage in flames, and a smoky house containing three adult dogs and 13 puppies, he said.

By 2:30 p.m., crews had extinguished the fire, though some hot spots remained and smoke continued to pour from the charred structure.

The attached house, unscathed by the fire, sustained smoke damage, Couch said.

Crews removed all of the dogs and puppies, he added.

Crews could be seen administering oxygen to one of the dogs as fire trucks rumbled in front of the home.

By Thursday evening, investigators with the Lubbock Fire Marshal's Office believed the fire likely was started by a malfunctioning electrical appliance such as a heater or lamp in the garage; Penny guessed a heater pilot may have been the culprit.

Fire Lt. Elliot Eldredge said the family also told investigators a bad electrical outlet could have sparked the blaze, but added his department continued investigating late Thursday.

Investigators estimated the damage at about $20,000.

No people were harmed in the fire, though Penny and some other of the home's occupants gathered in the yard and on a nearby street.

Later in the afternoon, neighbor Robin Brown took the puppies into his care, said his wife, Tina Bryant. Brown and Bryant hope to find people to adopt the puppies -- they have an expectant dog of their own -- but wanted to provide a home in the meantime.

"My husband is a die-hard animal lover," Bryant explained, "and he knew the mama dog and it just broke his heart."

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