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Home Destroyed By Fire, Possibly Caused By Stray Dog

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Fire crews couldn’t save a home early Friday morning near Sugarloaf.

The cabin sitting more than a quarter mile into the woods burned for more than an hour while the couple living there stood by and watched.

The couple had left the cabin just about 20 minutes before the fire started. Randy and Josey Brendle went to a relative’s home to call the SPCA, trying to get help for a stray dog they had just found. When they returned, the home was in flames, and the dog was trapped.

“I just opened the door, it just pushed me right back and it was just flames and it was just thick, thick black smoke,” said Randy Brendle.

The couple from Benton Township say they had just gone up the road with their niece Chloe to call the SPCA, trying to get help for the dog they found stranded in the snow just a short time before.

“He was limping on one paw. He was, like, black and tan a little bit,” Chloe said.

The dog was inside to get warm while the cook stove was burning. What happened next the family and firefighters aren’t quite sure.

“I don’t know if it was banging up against it, if it was afraid, trying to get warm, I don’t know,” Josey said.

The family rushed to call 911 to get help.

But getting to this fire was a huge challenge.  Fire crews had to run a hose more than a quarter of a mile just to get water to fight the flames.

“Our little truck was the only thing we could get up here because the drive was so long and it was snowy and icy,” said Benton Fire Chief Ed Musser.

Crews had to stand back as the cabin became unstable, fire ripping through the walls and the roof, destroying musical instruments, Christmas presents, and angel wings for a play this weekend.

But the family says they’re still thankful

“They make more stuff every day.  Stuff is stuff.  It’s just a house and it’s just stuff in there,” Josey said.

“No one was hurt. It was a blessing from the Lord, that everything happens for a reason, and we move on,” Randy said.

Fire officials say they did not think this fire in Benton Township was suspicious.

A state police fire marshal will be investigating to see if the dog somehow caused the fire and no one is sure if the dog was able to survive.


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