Tydus sounds the fire alarm
As a family of four slept through the raging fire sweeping through their hallway, the poodle-cross next door began to bark.
Tydus the dog is being hailed as a Marton hero after his yip woke his owner Kathryn Collins about 5am yesterday.
Initially angry, Collins kicked Tydus away, but when the 4-year-old dog would not stop yelping she looked out the window and saw flames coming from her neighbour's home.
She woke her son Kerry Walker who sprinted across to the house and began banging on the windows.
Walker feared he would have to break in before the family of four who lived in the house finally woke up. One by one escaped through a bedroom window as flames brought down the roof of the house.
"When I got to the house the thing was going up," Walker said. "The flames were smashing the windows by the hallway and they got higher than the chimney.
"I was really worried because they didn't initially respond to me banging on the windows so I ran around the back to try and get in and then everyone was yelling that they were trying to get out the window."
Walker helped lift two of the family - a toddler and a 4-year-old girl - out of the house, but he was not comfortable with the label of hero.
"Adrenaline just took over. I would have kicked a window in if I had to. It's what anyone would have done."
It was the dog that deserved credit, he said.
Marton chief fire officer Paul Whitehead said the fire had started on the porch of the house.
After initially fearing it was suspicious, fire investigators and police have determined it was caused by an electrical fault.
The family were shaken but uninjured and were being supported by their church and the Pacific Island community in the town, Whitehead said.
The house was owned by Canterbury Meat Packers, where a member of the family worked, he said.
"They didn't have contents insurance but they were lucky in that a lot of their contents were in the bedroom and we were able to save a lot of them."
The house had two smoke alarms, but the batteries inside were dead, Whitehead said.
If the occupants had not shut the door between the lounge and the hallway when they went to sleep, and Tydus the dog had not started barking, the result would likely have been very different, he said.
"It shows how important [smoke alarms] are. Not everyone's going to have a dog to save them."
Tydus appeared to be taking his hero status in his stride.
"He's a little beauty," Collins said.
"He was on the end of the bed and I growled at him and I think I might have even smacked him but he wouldn't stop. It was like he was thinking to himself 'I'm not giving up'."
The family had been living next door for the past three months after moving from Auckland.
"They couldn't believe what had happened and they didn't really know what to do with themselves. They were all in their pyjamas and they had nothing else, nowhere to go."
The church and the Marton community would look after them and get them back on their feet, she said.
Collins and the family were now making sure they were fully prepared for the possibility of fire, even with a dog like Tydus on their side.
"It shows you've got to listen to your animals. He deserves a medal, he does. One thing's for sure, I'll never ignore him again."