Until March 5, Joint Base Lewis-McChord firefighters hadn’t seen Snow, a 1-and-a-half-year-old white husky service dog, since they heroically rescued her from a Jan. 3 house fire on base.
No humans were injured in the January fire that happened in Clarkmoor housing , but after the harrowing ordeal, Snow is on her way to being healthy again.
Snow was able to visit with the firefighters who rescued her March 5, accompanied by her owner, Pfc. Christina Carter, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 42nd Military Police Brigade.
The dog is currently recovering from pneumonia and respiratory problems caused by heavy smoke inhalation, Carter said. Snow works as a service dog related to Carter’s migraines.
“I’m just glad my puppy is alive,” Carter said about Snow.
Captain Sean Harding, a Department of Defense civilian firefighter with JBLM’s Engine 102, was the first on the scene of the fire on that January morning. Ladder 101 and Engine 103 also responded to the call.
When Harding and his crew arrived, they saw light smoke coming from the house, he said.
After sizing up the situation and making necessary precautions, firefighter Paul Smith and Harding entered the house through an unlocked door.
“There was smoke all the way to the floor — pure black smoke,” Harding said. “We made our way in and knocked the fire out.”
The next step was ventilating the house. That’s when the homeowners, who were outside the house, let firefighters know Snow was still inside the smoke-filled home.
“We started searching for the dog upstairs because dogs normally go to their bedroom, but the dog was in a downstairs bedroom,” Harding said.
Smith carried Snow — who was covered in smoke, making her normal coat of snow white, a gun metal gray color — to the outside of the house, according to Harding.
“We had no idea the dog was white,” Harding said.
At first, Harding used his own face mask air regulator on the dog, who was having difficulty breathing.
Firefighter Rich Scott, with Engine 103, provided another oxygen mask to put over the snout of Snow and would later transported Snow to a local veterinary hospital.
Snow was released to go home with Carter after more than a week in the hospital. The family is living in another house on base, due to the damage to their home.
Carter said she and her husband, Bo Carter, broke down when they found out that someone anonymously paid the initial $500 for the dog’s veterinarian visit.
The total bill was about $6,000, but a foundation — also with a name not provided to Carter — picked up the rest of the bill, she said.
Harding said he was glad to see Snow after the incident and know she is doing so well.
“I’m always happy when a subject, be it an animal or a human, is OK after something like this — it’s a refreshing feeling,” he said. “A lot of times we don’t hear the end result.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to Chief Christopher Barnard, assistant chief of operations for JBLM’s fire and emergency services.