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Rescued dogs alert Farnham family to house fire

Dogs rescued by a Village of Farnham family were credited with alerting them to the fire that destroyed their home early Monday.

“We rescued them and they rescued us,” homeowner Dave Pruchnicki said Monday afternoon.

Pruchnicki, his wife, Dusty, and their 5-year-old son, David, were asleep in their home at 761 Railroad Ave. when flames broke out on the front porch, below the couple’s bedroom.

Embers from a wood fire had been discarded in a steel bin days ago. But the bin had a perforation in it and when the embers rekindled, the heat worked through, according to Chief Peter Chiavetta of the Farnham Volunteer Fire Department.

“The fire was not originally inside the house,” Chiavetta said. “It was outside the house on the front porch.”

Flames ignited scrap wood on the porch and the fire “just took off,” Chiavetta said.

The family has three adult pit bulls: Shrek and Fiona, who were rescued as puppies from a Buffalo house and joined the family about six months ago, and Ivan, who was adopted earlier.

“This morning, they were going nuts,” Pruchnicki said. Shrek, in particular, “was running up and down the stairs, barking and whining.”

Looking out their bedroom window, the couple saw the blaze. With barely enough time to put something on their feet, the couple grabbed their son and fled in their pajamas.

“By the time we got downstairs, it was just unbelievable how fast it spread,” said Pruchnicki. He said he let the dogs out into their fenced backyard, then moved them to the neighbor’s house.

Pruchnicki said his wife had grabbed his cellphone, which they use as an alarm clock, and called 911 as they fled.

“As we were going out my side door, the front windows blew in,” Pruchnicki said.

Five companies responded to the fire, which was reported shortly before 4 a.m. Chiavetta estimated damage at $80,000 but said the two-story frame house is a total loss.

“Everything’s gone,” Pruchnicki said.

The family and their dogs are staying with relatives nearby.