Man burned saving dog from house fire

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on January 16, 2014 at 6:39 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 17 at 1:21 PM

PHOENIX -- Two people are recovering after an early morning fire that started near their water heater.

It happened at about 2 a.m. in the area of 36th Street and Bell Road.

The man and woman who live in the home were already outside when firefighters arrived on the scene. The man suffered burns to the back of his head. The woman suffered smoke inhalation. Both have been released from the hospital and are expected to make full recoveries.

According to the Phoenix Fire Department, the man was injured when he ran back inside the burning home to save his dog. The dog survived.

While investigators have not determined how the fire started, video from the scene showed major damage around the water heater indicating that the fire probably started there. That utility closet is now boarded up.

The fast-moving flames gutted the home.

A neighbor told 3TV's Jill Galus that the couple was in the process of remodeling.

"He was just finishing up the outside -- new windows, new siding, everything," Bernice Knight told 3TV's Jill Galus. "He's 'Mr. Handyman.' He's just a great, great neighbor."

She said their neighborhood is a close-knit one, and this fire has been an emotional experience for everyone.

"I feel like it happened to us," Knight explained. "It's just scary that it could happen -- to anyone."

It's not clear if there were working smoke detectors in the home. Firefighters say having working smoke detectors is one of the best things you can do to protect your family should the unthinkable happen.

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