Mom, son and 3 dogs escape fire Wednesday in Merced

tmiller@mercedsunstar.comOctober 2, 2013 

A Merced mother, her son and three dogs escaped from their home Wednesday after a fire erupted in the garage and then spread to the house.

Merced City Fire Battalion Chief Tom McCall said crews responded to a home in the 200 block of East 27th Street about 5 p.m. after receiving reports of a garage engulfed in flames.

McCall said the woman, her son and their three dogs all made it out safely, but one of the animals had to be removed from the burning house by a firefighter.

The fire collapsed the roof of the unattached garage and jumped a few feet to the home, McCall said, where it spread to most of the attic.

McCall said the dwelling was too damaged for the family to occupy, so the American Red Cross was paying for their stay at a motel.

Kerri Jonas, the home’s tenant, said she was just sitting down to dinner with her 11-year-old son, Frankie, because it was almost time to go to his Little League game. She said she heard what sounded like something falling over in the back yard.

Assuming the dogs had knocked something over, Jonas said, she sent Frankie outside to investigate. She followed him out when she heard him scream.

“The garage was engulfed in flames,”said Jonas, 46.

Jonas said she called 911 and tried to keep the flames off the house with a garden hose. That’s when firefighters arrived, moving her and her son away from the blaze.

Their Chihuahua, April, and mixed-breed dog, Pelongo, ran out of the house, she said. However, Jenni, a German shepherd, was hiding behind a television set in the house.

Firefighter Brett Markarian carried the animal out of the house.

“He rescued Jenni, so that was cool,” Jonas said. “I’m just glad everybody got out.”

Jonas said she was relieved that the fire did not spread to a neighbor’s home.

“I appreciate their fast response,” Jonas said about the fire crew. “They know what they’re doing.”

McCall estimated $50,000 in damages to the garage and home.

Four engines, a truck and a battalion chief accompanied the 16 crew members to the scene. They had the fire contained by 5:44 p.m. Merced police and Riggs Ambulance Service also responded.

It is unclear what caused the blaze, McCall said, and it remains under investigation.

Sun-Star staff writer Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or tmiller@mercedsunstar.com.

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