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Pitbull puppy saves family from fire

Family says Tiger woke them Monday morning

Created On: Tuesday, 06 Jan 2009
MaryKay Mallonee

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - A Hampton family is thanking their 6-month-old pitbull puppy, Tiger, for saving their lives during a fast-moving house fire.

The family says Tiger woke them up around 1:30 Monday morning as the smoke and flames spread across their house on Old Buckroe Road.

The parents and all three children escaped, but the fire destroyed everything they own.

As firefighters scrambled to put out the last of the hot spots, Rachelle Bradley stood there watching, dazed. Her two teenage children and nine-year-old nephew had also been inside when the fire started.

"Everything was in flames. All I could think was, 'Get the kids out!' I ran down the hall trying to get them out," cried Bradley.

Twelve hours later, in daylight, Bradley, still wearing her nightgown, got a sobering look at the charred shell of her home.

"How do we move on? We have nowhere to go. Our house is gone, all our belongings are gone, we don't know."

The entire family was asleep when the fire started, everyone but Tiger.

"And he was scratching on my door trying to get our attention. I opened my bedroom door to see what he wanted and I saw all the smoke."

Bradley made a desperate attempt to extinguish the fire herself.

"And my son grabbed my arm and said, 'Come on Mom. You can't save nothing. C'mon let's go.'"

As if losing their home was not bad enough, the family learned Monday afternoon that someone allegedly climbed into their burned house and tried to steal from them.

The Hampton Fire Marshall, Anne-Marie Loughran, says one of her investigators spotted 47-year-old Jacob Pritchett, Jr. trying to get away with a DVD player and about 35 CD's.

Loughran says Prichett jumped out a side window and tried to run off with the stolen goods, but Fire Investigator Gomes captured him and arrested him. Pritchett is now in jail charged with burglary, grand larceny and crossing a fire line.

The Bradley family has three days in a hotel room provided by the Red Cross, before they must find a new place to live. Tiger is alive and well with the family.