Orange County

‘She’s my hero’: Man credits dog with saving life after waking up to Mount Dora home in flames

MOUNT DORA, Fla. — A Mount Dora man is crediting his dog for saving his life after he woke up to his home in flames.

The 7,000-square-foot home was shooting up in flames early Wednesday.

Joel Rosa said he feels lucky he made it out alive.


Rosa said he was sleeping when his dog, Maggie, startled him at about 3 a.m.

“She woke me up barking,” Rosa said. “She heard the noise and I saw the fire on the roof.”

That’s when he said the fire started spreading through the house.

Photos: Dog wakes up owner after Mount Dora home catches fire

“I came outside on the porch and saw the flames,” Rosa said. “I tried to put it out with water but it didn’t work.”

Rosa grabbed Maggie, ran outside and called 911 for help.

“She’s my hero. I love my dog and she’s amazing,” Rosa said.

READ: Babysitter charged with murder after violently shaken baby dies of injuries 35 years later

It took tanker trucks and several crews hours to put the flames out.

Investigators said about 80% of the home was engulfed.

Orange County Fire Rescue believes lightning hit the home during storms Tuesday.

“That lightning festered inside the roof and when the dog started barking the homeowner heard crackling and immediately called 911 up the speaker,” said Lisa McDonald, with Orange County Fire Rescue.

READ: 9 Investigates helps veteran get REAL ID

Rosa said he doesn’t believe he would’ve woken up without Maggie’s help. Now, he’s feeling grateful and closer to her than ever.

“That’s the most important thing: that we are OK,” Rosa said.

The Red Cross also arrived on scene to provide support to Rosa and Maggie.

See map of scene below:

Katlyn Brieskorn,

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.