School Closings And Delays

Home Destroyed By Fire, Possibly Caused By Stray Dog

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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.


  • Gary

    In an AP story dated 12/28/13, one of the occupants stated that they left the dog tied up to a coal-burning stove to stay warm & that the dog may have pulled the stove over, igniting the fire. Now imagine a dog trying to get away from a stove, pulling on the rope. How was this accomplished anyway? With a collar? If not a collar, how was the dog tied to the stove? Imagine if you will, a dog trying to get loose from a heat-emitting coal stove. Not so bright.

    • Richard Detwiler

      Rather than imagining anything, maybe press your local “news” media to write an actual account. The television reporter who grabbed bits and pieces for this “report” was apparently watching her clock more attentively than the incident and didn’t even stay at the fire long enough to watch the firefighters enter the house, remove the dog’s body, and give it to the owners who had lost it. The AP “article” got wide distribution, because of the entertainment value of the dead dog and was based on an incomplete and inaccurate “report” published in the Bloomsburg paper.

      • Richard Detwiler

        You might notice also by the lack of follow up or even attention to the comments posted here, that the “news” station that produced this piece had no more interest in this fire incident than creating a once and done sensation… certainly not the reporting or analysis of information.


    Did they have a Kitty Cat in there too? That may have been the trigger for the fire.

    Dog chases Kitty Cat around Cabin. Knocks over stove while frolicking about.

    Did they send in a Swat Team?

    Did the police follow the paw prints in the snow?

    Are they sure it was a Doggie and not a Coyote with a bounty on its head?

    Did they have access to a roll of Duct Tape?


    They should have Duck Taped the Doggie before they ran off to call the SPCA. Poor Doggie,

    If they would of just taken the time to think instead of letting their Emotions run wild that in order to protect a stray Doggie, you may have to protect it against itself in a strange cabin all by itself away from whom ever dropped it off out in the woods in the first place.
    But I guess Duck Tapping a Doggie for it’s own protection or for the training purpose of obedience is against the law.

    Now these folks have no place to go. and will have to use assistance from others that could have been used for the SPCA and stray Mutt.

  • Richard Detwiler

    Just a little clarification: The actual owners of the cabin, who are not mentioned in this story, lost considerably more than the temporary guests, who were to have vacated earlier this month. The house was a memorial to our father and grandfather who built the house and died while vacationing there in 1976.
    Also, bumping into a 19th century cast-iron cook stove is not nearly as likely to have started the fire as leaving a lost dog alone in a strange house with a lit propane burner in the middle of the room.

  • gafan

    I apologize for my previous comment. I recently lost a beloved pet/family member. I just found these peoples’ lack of regard for the poor animal disturbing. That doesn’t make them criminals, just insensitive.

  • Bahm

    You People disgust me, Someone Lost a HOME and someone lost a DOG.. and all you people can do is BLAME… What is this world coming to, Does No one give a D@mn about COMMUNITY AND CARING! my God…

  • Judi

    The dog perished in this fire we were looking for this dog she was spayed and micro-chipped. She will be laid to rest properly.

    • Richard Detwiler

      Our condolences to the owners of the dog that apparently died in the fire that took our family cabin. If you found the remains of your dog in our cabin, would you please contact me ( Thank you.

  • Cindy

    Who really would take a stray dog and leave them unattended in their home? Then use a phone somewhere else? Something seems out of place here.

  • betsy webb

    Are you kidding me that you are acting this way when someone just lost their home when they were just trying to do something nice for a stray dog. They didn’t Blame the dog they said that might have happened. For even sakes. I think they should be glad the dog came and got them out of the house. They could have died in that accident. Then you people would be saying oh those poor people. I am a dog lover but I did not read this article and immediately blame the dog.

  • Mike

    Firefighters could use some more training. Not using SCBAs while on the roof? Then the chief yelling get of the roof yikes.

    • hmontaigne

      It’s not their house, it was a friend’s house who was letting them live there temporarily. I feel very bad about the poor beautiful dog, though. Awful. Someone WAS injured!

    • Steffer Moorison

      Not a dog owner? I have 2small and a service dog. And he bumps into things all the time knocking the biggest things off tables. Funny tonight he bumped the big huge heavy cabinet enough to almost spill an oil lamp that i had lighted. If it went my house would have gone up. I live rural and know if my house caught their would be no chance saving it. I live on a private road no hydrants but i chose that. We also got extra insurance on the house and pay for it dearly. It also maybe a shock to some but possessions are not important. I have nothing in my house that would make me sad to lose if everybody got out safely and no firefighters got hurt. Its stuff, just stuff.

  • Lexi Lamberton

    And to quote these people …
    “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.

    This dog that may have perished in the fire is NOT “stuff”!!! And, “No one was hurt. It was a blessing from the Lord, that everything happens for a reason, and we move on,” Do you consider this poor dog “No one?”

    Very sad how this poor dog is regarded.

    • Lisa Caffo

      I agree completely with you Lexi. When I saw the “stuff is stuff” and that no one was hurt, I went back to read it again looking to see that
      the dog had been found. Wow, people, really?? Leave the poor animals alone next time!!

  • Lexi Lamberton

    Are you kidding me that these people are blaming a poor stray dog for causing a fire??? Has anyone located this poor dog??? I’m at a loss for words that you would actually report this story as a stray dog causing a fire!

    I hope that the dog was located and is not hurt! For all of the animal lovers, please give us a follow-up on this precious dog.

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