Hero dog saved lives following arson drama

PUBLISHED: 16:25 04 October 2012 | UPDATED: 16:50 04 October 2012

Billy the hero dog

Billy the hero dog

Archant

A HERO dog raised the alarm and saved residents lives after an arson attack at a block of flats.

Wonder West Highland terrier Billy led the Lassie-like rescue as he refused to budge from his front door until his owner Neil McIlwee opened it, to see smoke engulfing a communal area of The Hollies, in Great North Road, WGC.

Firefighters battled the smoke and flames for around an hour after three engines were called to the ground floor apartment blaze at around 10.45pm on Thursday, September 20.

Mr McIlwee told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “If it wasn’t for him [Billy] who knows what might have happened.

“I took him out for a walk at about 9.15pm for his last walk of the night, but then later he was laying by the front door wanting to go out again.

“I said ‘no, you’ve been out’ but then I thought I’d better take him.

“I opened the door and saw all the smoke was in the communal area.

“That’s when we alerted the fire brigade to get people out of their flats.”

On Friday Tony Robinson, station commander at Stevenage Fire Station and fire investigation officer, tweeted: “Fire Investigation to carry out this morning in WGC working with HFRS (Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service) Dog Team, Police & SOCO (scenes-of-crime officers).

Shahrzad Zojaji, who lives in the same apartment complex, said: “My neighbour told me that a dog smelt the smoke and that’s why they [the occupants] came out.”

“It wasn’t that much smoke, but the fire guys were running and rushing so they felt it was a bad situation.”

Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue described the flat as “heavily smoke logged” and the crews used breathing apparatus and a hose reel to search for anyone trapped in the flat.

The fire was extinguished at 11.42pm.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “Officers attended the scene but fortunately the flat was unoccupied at the time.”

■ A 43-year-old man from WGC was arrested on suspicion of arson and released on police bail, pending further enquiries.

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