ORANGE PARK, Fla. - An Orange Park couple is thanking their dog for waking them up just before their home went up in flames.
The fire early Tuesday morning destroyed nearly everything in Thomas Tyson and Cynthia Taylor's home, but their dog Harley's barking woke them up in time for them to escape unharmed. The couple didn't have a smoke detector, so they said without Harley, it would have been too late for them to get out.
It was 2:30 a.m. when the fire started, and they were sound asleep.
"I just heard him barking," Tyson said. "I wasn't paying attention. I heard him barking and I wake up, and there's flames kind of like it was on my side of the bed."
With flames inches from his face, Tyson grabbed his girlfriend Taylor and ran to get water. They looked for a fire extinguisher, anything to get the flames under control, but by the time they got back, everything was burning.
"It was crazy to have a fire waking up to in the middle of the night. You know what I mean? That is crazy," Taylor said.
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The fire destroyed nearly everything inside, but the couple walked away alive, all thanks to the warning from their American Bulldog.
Tyson got Harley four years ago from a kennel. He was just a puppy and in pretty bad shape.
"The other dogs were chewing on his ears, and he had really bad worms," Tyson said. "His stomach was so swollen up it looked like he was about to bust. But he just looked at me with those big old eyes of his and I just had to get him."
It's a decision Tyson is glad he made, and he said Harley is going to get more than a few doggie treats for heroic effort.
"He's going to get a few steak dinners," Tyson said. "I'm really happy he's our dog and he saved our lives."
Tyson's sister was also in the house when it caught on fire. She made it out OK.
The Orange Park Fire Department said it doesn't know exactly what caused the fire, but it is not suspicious. Firefighters said it did start in the couple's bedroom.
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