Friends raise cash for couple who lost home to fire

Family dog awoke couple in burning bedroom

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - A family pet is credited with saving an Orange Park couple from a house fire, and nearly two weeks later, their friends throw a benefit to help them recover.

Thomas Tyson, and his girlfriend Cynthia Taylor, were inside sleeping when fire ripped through their house on Sept. 11. They woke up because their dog began barking.

Their home remains badly charred. The outside has clear signs of fire and smoke damage, and a big sign in the front of the house warns people to stay away.

Tyson says if it wasn't for their American bulldog "their friends and family would have been attending a funeral today, rather than a charity event." 

Tyson and Taylor didn't have a smoke detector in their bedroom, but they had their bulldog name 'Harley,' who was able to get the job done with some loud yelps.

"I just heard a barking and when I opened my eyes the flames were on my side of the bed," Thomas said.

"I'd be dead, I know that," Taylor said.

The couple said the fire started in their bedroom and can probably be blamed on a surge protector connected to a wall outlet.

Thanks to the panic of their dog, they were able to escape the suffocating smoke. 

"It was black. All you could see was the blaze and there's nothing but smoke," Tyson said.

Sunday friends organized a charity motorcycle ride and picnic. Cliff Mau wants to see the family get their lives back together.

"Just raise some money and help my friend get back on his feet. That's what friends do. They take care of their own. If I was in his position I'd want somebody to do it for me," Mau said.

Some of the their personal items still remain in the front of the home.

They lost nearly everything and for the last couple of days they have been staying with a family friend.

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