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Dogs, family safe; home destroyed

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ROOF: By the time the flames were knocked down, the roof collapsed and the house was covered in white foam.
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COYDOG: Meme, a 4-year-old coyote-Australian-shepherd mix, sits next to her owner as police officers and neighbors search for her best friend and fellow coydog named Boo.
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BLACK SMOKE: Firefighters work on extinguishing the home as black smoke darkens the blue skies in Rock Creek TownshipTuesday morning.
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FRONT WINDOWS:When crews arrived, flames were reportedly shooting from the front windows, pictured here.
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FOAM: A firefighter sprays foam on the front of the house. In order to fully extinguish the fire, firetrucks had to take turns sucking up water from nearby water sources and dumping it into large inflatable pools before starting the process again.

by Andrew Maciejewski - amaciejewski@h-ponline.com

WARREN — The Jackson family and their coyote-dog-mix companions, Meme and Boo, are safe after a fire ravaged their Warren home yesterday around 9:30 a.m.

Their neighbor, Scott Pursifull, watched “tons of black smoke” rise from the home at 4252 S. 200 E. as he drove about one-half mile down the road, arriving approximately five minutes after hearing the call for service.

“There was flames coming out of the front windows and the porch,” Persifull said. “I couldn’t believe how fast the flames accelerated.”

By the time homeowner Danny Jackson arrived with his 21-year-old son Brandon, the white-washed siding was charred black, with the roof collapsed inside the foam-coated home.

As the four volunteer fire departments fought the flames and the black smoke turned white, the Jackson family cuddled with their 4-year-old dog Meme as police officers and neighbors searched for the only missing member of the family, a 13-year-old Australian shepherd named Boo.

Before Danny left that morning, he remembers watching Boo and Meme dart across the front yard after a squirrel. When the two best friends didn’t come back within ten minutes, he filled their food and water bowls, as he always does, and he left to babysit his grandson.

When 2920 came across his caller ID, he ignored it because he thought it was a fake number, but when a deputy called and told him the news, he came home and began searching as soon as he arrived.

“I found one of my dogs when I got back, but the other one (was gone),” Jackson said. “She’s 13 and has a lot of medical problems. I know that it sounds like it’s trivial, but when you lose a house, you want to hang on to your dogs.”

He was used to looking for her, since Boo’s arthritis locks up her hips in cold weather, but once the fire was under control after about an hour, Boo didn’t turn, which worried Danny even though he felt optimistic.

“She was feeling pretty good this morning … There’s a lot of times where she’ll be gone all day and she’ll come rolling in around 6 or 7 o’clock,” he said.

Sure enough, a neighbor found Boo, and a firefighter delivered her to the Jacksons.

Markle Volunteer Fire Department chief John Gray said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Danny suspects it was old wiring, since the home was built in the 1800s.

Danny’s put all of his kids through school during the 15 years they’ve lived in the home, and he said memories of being involved in Boy Scouts, coaching Little League and enjoying community events came to his mind as he thought about what he’d lost.

“That’s my history. That’s my life,” he said. “All of my kids pictures are in there, the achievement awards that they’ve gotten.”

Gray said he could not estimate how much damage the home suffered, since crews were still working on extinguishing hotspots nearly two hours after the call came in, but he said there was significant damage.

“From radio traffic, it did sound like flames were shooting out of the front of the house,” Gray said.

Anyone wanting to provide help to the family can email Brandon at BobbyJonWA2345@gmail.com.