Coolidge-- Pets were always welcome at Jimmy Morstatter's home, and he offered shelter to strays. The love he showed to his animals was returned last night, just when he needed it most. "The dog actually woke the individual up, and he realized the house was on fire," explains Chris Jones, Thomas County Fire Chief.
The house had no smoke detectors and Morstad says when his cat Garfield and his German Sheperd Little Boy woke him, the house was already engulfed in flames. Morstatter says he could not see through the smoke. Despite the dog being blind, he led his master to the front door to get out.
"If this individual had not been woken up by his pet, there's really no telling what would have occurred," says Jones. Morstatter ran to a neighbor's to call 911. Some of his pets were able to escape with him including his rescuer's brother, Big Boy. Sadly, somehow Morstatter and Little Boy were separated in the smoke. Little Boy and five cats were lost in the fire.
Firefighters say Morstatter was fortunate to get out alive, especially without smoke detectors in the home. "We have smoke detectors available through Thomas County Fire & Rescue. They are free of charge, and we will even install them if someone needs us to do that," says Jones.
Morstatter says he and his pets now must start over, but he'll never forget the ones lost. The ones that saved his life.
Jones says they have not yet determined what started that fire.