LEBANON, TN (WSMV) - An early morning fire destroyed the home of a family in Wilson County, but they believe an unlikely hero may have saved their lives – one of their dogs, Maggie.

“I thought they had to go to the bathroom, but it turned out the house was on fire,” said Randy Grimsley.

Maggie saved family from fire

Maggie saved family from fire

The shake Grimsley can’t stop doing with his dog Maggie is a shake of thanks.

Their Lebanon home was destroyed by fire on Wednesday morning.

Grimsley and his wife was asleep when the fire started. That’s when Maggie started barking.

“My wife has them trained as service animals, so they’re not allowed to bark in the house,” said Randy Grimsley.

He got out of bed and saw his other dog, Morgan, making noise and moving nervously. That led his eyes to the fire. He woke his wife and got outside.

“We walked away because of these two animals,” said Randy Grimsley. “If Maggie hadn’t barked and Morgan didn’t dance around the doors, we knew something was up, so they saved our lives.

“So thank God for the dogs.”

Reality said emotional pain and hurt are part of this too.

“Everything was burned, as you can see, so it’s a total loss,” said Randy Grimsley.

According to Assistant Fire Chief Jason Baird, just before 4 a.m. the family's dog started barking and woke her owner.

Grimsley got up figuring she needed to be let out, but when he got downstairs he found a fire had started on the back deck of the home. He told firefighters that his smoke detectors hadn't yet gone off because the fire hadn't yet gotten into the home. 

The man woke his wife, and the two of them collected their pair of dogs and exited the home, waking a couple who also were asleep in a camper in the driveway.

By the time first responders arrived, the home was more than 50% involved in the fire along the back side of the house. As firefighters showed up, quite a bit of fireworks began going off in the garage.

Baird told News4 that there were between 10 and 15 small explosions from the fireworks, that initially concerned firefighters. 

Once that stopped, crews were able to quickly gain control over the fire, but the home would be a total loss. 

The family was able to retrieve a few personal belongings, but lost most of their possessions. The American Red Cross has contacted the family to assist in housing for them tonight.

Luckily, thanks to the alerts sounded by Maggie, who appears to be either a Goldendoodle or Labradoodle, the family was alerted to the fire early enough that no family members were injured, and no firefighters suffered injuries.

An adjacent home was damaged by heat from the fire.

The family believes the house is a total loss and that insurance will not cover it.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Feature Reporter

Terry Bulger has been bringing you stories of the people and places that make Tennessee unique and interesting on News4 since 1990. Contact Terry if you have an interesting community story for him to cover.

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