• Family's dog leads firefighters to children trapped in burning Longwood home

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    LONGWOOD, Fla. - A family’s German Shepard led firefighters through a burning Longwood home, where they found two children inside Monday night.  

    Firefighters smashed open the door and rescued a man inside, but the children were in a different room, Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dennis Lemma said.

    “The family’s canine that was in the house led firefighters to the two children who were inside,” he said.

    All four of the home’s occupants were successfully rescued, Lemma said.

    “(The) little boy was not breathing when they brought him out. They put a mask on him, he came to,” said Dover.

    Among them was a sheriff’s deputy, who was pulled out a window by a neighbor.

    “We ran over next door to see where the sound came from and you could see the flames coming out,” neighbor Chip Dover said.

    “We were banging on the windows,” Dover said. “I pulled on the front door enough to pull the latch right off of it. Nothing happened.”

    The two threw a chair through a window and kept breaking windows, following the sound of a woman inside.

    A fire rescue battalion chief told said the German Shepard, named Maxx, may have made the difference in getting the deputy's children out.

    Their hands blackened by smoke and soot, Dover and his son were finally able to locate the victim trapped inside the Country Hill Drive home.

    “We didn’t hear anything anymore, so then we went to the next window, smashed that one out and I pulled (the trapped woman) out of that window,” Dover said.

    Once she was out of the house, the deputy, who was not identified, tried to go right back in, Lemma said.

    “Her primary concern was to get back in there and to rescue her children,” he said. “She’s an absolute trooper. She’s a hero within our organization and her actions tonight demonstrate that behavior.

    “We’re very proud of her.”

    Emergency personnel at the scene were able to restrain the deputy while firefighters rescued her children.

    He commended Dover for his actions, saying it was “a really heroic act on the part of the neighbor.”

    All four victims were taken to the hospital where they were listed in serious, but stable, condition, Lemma said.

    An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. It appears to be accidental, Lemma said.

    The sheriff's office released this statement:

    The family’s home was completely destroyed.  A fund has been designated to provide assistance to the Feaser family to help defray medical, veterinary, and other expenses.  Contributions may be made via check to the “Seminole County Sheriff’s Office Employee Benevolent Fund” and sent to 100 Bush Boulevard, Sanford, FL 32773, attention: “Feaser Family Fund.”   Community questions about funding assistance may be directed to 407-665-6880.”

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