The owner of the Tower restaurant and a popular pizzeria on Bel Air's Main Street, Renato Buontempo, is escorting his wife, Christine, home from the hospital after she was injured by a fire in their house on Viola Court last night, along with four other victims who escaped unharmed.
Dog saves restaurant owner's family from house fire in Bel Air
Small dog alerts family to fire in garage
Posted at 2:07 PM, Jul 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-21 18:25:27-04
"I'm glad that everybody is safe,” said Buontempo. “I'm glad that my wife is good and I got to buy my dog a big steak, because if it wasn't for him to give a heads up to the wife and to the kids, they would have still been in the house while the fire was still going on in the garage. So thank God for my little dog. He really saved us."
Renato has three dogs, but he says it was his teacup Yorki named 'Bacio' that was relentless in its barking, refusing to stop until someone checked out what was wrong.
"When the dog was giving a hard time, she thought somebody was in the garage---a burglar,” said Buontempo. “So she opened the garage (door) and when she opened the garage (door), the door just pushed it away, but as (she was) pushing it, she touched the door that was inside the garage, it was hot and it burned her."
Investigators say it was a heroic act by Renato's wife that also made a difference when she pushed the door closed in spite of her injury in the face of intense flames and heavy smoke.
"She absolutely... her actions contained that fire to that garage,” said Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire. “If she didn't, who knows, it could have easily spread throughout the house."
Renato says he felt helpless that he wasn't home at the time of the fire, but his spirits have been lifted by the support of the countless friends he has amassed while operating his businesses in Harford County.
"When you stay in a small community like this for over 30 years, everybody gets to know each other,” said Buontempo. “And Bel Air's a good community to live (in) and thank God for the fire department. The fire department... they were here just in no time and we're really blessed. We are really blessed."
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