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Smart doorbell helps family learn of house fire

Response comes too late to save pet
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Posted at 6:45 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 09:02:22-04

You could spot the smoke from miles away, but by the time more than three dozen firefighters arrived at the burning house in a remote area on Heaps Road south of Whiteford near the state line, there was little left to save.

"When I came out, when my neighbor called and said there was a fire, the house was fully engulfed by then, and I think the trucks got here... maybe 15, 20 minutes later,” said Fred Hooper, one of the victims’ neighbors, “By then it was too late. The whole roof was gone by then."

Fortunately, the couple who owns the house weren't home at the time, but through technology, they had already learned of the fire long before any official notification.

"The neighbor saw smoke so approached the house and knocked on the door, and because they had a smart doorbell, it actually notified the owner, who was not there at the time, on their smartphone that someone was at the door," said Emily Witty of the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

That prompted the victims to call another neighbor who told them of the fire, which would cause an estimated $750,000 worth of damage to the house and its contents.

Tragically, the couple later learned their dog had perished in the fire, and while investigators haven't determined what started it, they don't believe there's anything suspicious about its origin and say the family should count itself fortunate that no one was home at the time.

"It's a scenario that luckily there was no loss of life, but it's still very devastating and luckily they have family that is helping them," added Witty.