'Champ' the Dog Saves Calif. Homeowners

July 31--HAYWARD -- Rescuers hailed a Rottweiler as a hero Thursday morning after the dog's barking helped owners escape a one-alarm fire that started in the garage of their Glen Eden home.

When fire crews responded at 3:04 a.m. to the 28000 block of Sparrow Road, smoke was coming from the garage, fire spokesman Don Nichelson said.

The residents told investigators that they were awakened by when their dog 'Champ' began barking, and then they smelled smoke. They quickly realized the garage was on fire and ran from the house, with the dog in tow.

Champ normally sleeps in the garage, Nichelson said, but for some reason the dog decided to sleep inside on Wednesday night.

Fire crews kept the blaze from spreading beyond the garage, Nichelson said. The residents and dog escaped injury and the home was not damaged.

Nichelson said the fire appears to be electrical in nature. Investigators said a long extension cord charging a car battery apparently shorted.

An estimated monetary damage to the garage was not known, Nichelson said. The couple was allowed to return to their home, but not permitted to use their garage until it can be restored.

Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.

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