Dog's barks alert elderly owner to fire

ALOR SETAR - A stray dog taken in by a senior citizen repaid the kind deed when its fierce barking helped alert her to a fire that razed her double-storey wooden house in Kampung Seberang Nyonya.

Wong Kan Ho, 85, said she was praying at the back of her house yesterday when her dog Kau Chai (Cantonese for Little Dog), which was tied up, started barking fiercely.

"It was like it was trying to get my attention. It has never barked like that before, so I stopped praying. Suspecting something amiss inside the house, I entered through the back door and saw thick black smoke and flames inside.

"I tried to put out the flames with water from the bathroom but the fire was too big. I then rushed out of the house through the back."

Wong said she unleashed her dog and both of them ran as far away as possible from the burning house before she fell.

"A voluntary fireman helped carry me to safety," she said.

The fire, which started at about 10.15am, also razed a neighbouring house.

Describing Kau Chai as obedient, Wong said she had taken in the male dog during the Chinese New Year.

"If not for the dog, I would not have realised there was a fire and could have been injured or worse, killed," she said.

Wong has been living in the house for the past 10 years with her daughter Cheong Yit Foon, 63, a kuih seller, her granddaughter Ooi Chin Siew, 35, Ooi's husband and their child.

Ooi said she was sleeping in the living room when she was awakened by the smell of thick smoke.

"I tried to run to the kitchen but I saw flames there. I immediately grabbed some important documents and my handphone before rushing out of the house," she said.

Firemen and voluntary firefighers took about 10 minutes to bring the flames under control.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.