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‘She’s the only reason why I woke up’: Dog helps CRR resident escape burning log home

(Update: Adding video, interview with resident)

Couple remains optimistic, despite losing everything in early-morning blaze

CROOKED RIVER RANCH, Ore. (KTVZ) – Moving forward. It's a motto that a Crooked River Ranch family has adopted as they look ahead to see what's next, after a fire destroyed their log home early Monday morning.

Ryan Littlefield and Robin Whitaker live on Southwest Lords Place, in a log cabin that they inherited. The home was originally built by Littlefield's grandfather in 1986.

Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue responded shortly after 2 a.m. to the fire alarm, Assistant Fire Chief Sean Hartley said. Crews arrived to find the two-story log home engulfed, with flames spreading to a neighboring fence. The home was considered a total loss, with an estimated value of the structure of about $207,000, not including contents.

The couple moved into the house only three weeks ago, and Whitaker was the only one home when the house went up in flames.

And it was their dog, Boo, who woke her up in time to get out.

"I would have never woke up in time. I know that for sure, I've thought about it a million times, and if she wouldn't have been so persistent -- there's no way," Whitaker told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday. "I swear, it was like teamwork. She is the only reason why I woke up."

The family has three dogs. Not only did Boo wake Whitaker up, but guided her, alongside the other two dogs one in front, two in the back -- until she safely made it out the back door, amid thick smoke that made it impossible to see, Whitaker recalled.

Fire investigators were unable to determine the cause, but said started outside of the house. Mutual aid assistance was provided by Redmond Fire & Rescue, the Cloverdale Rural Fire District and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Car keys, electronics, pictures, and the urns of Ryan's grandparents and father were all lost in the fire. While their dogs were okay, the family lost their two cats -- each of which recently had a litter of kittens.

Surrounding neighbors all have gated driveways. On top of that, Whitaker's phone was lost in the fire. She says she had to scream for help in the street until a neighbor heard and called 911.

Fortunately, their four children were away for the night.

Despite the lost home, Whitaker says they are very thankful for the ways the community has already stepped up to help them out. (A friend also has started a GoFundMe page for the family.)

"We've only lived here for a month, and it just seems everywhere we go someone is you know -- reaching out, so we're super-grateful," Whitaker said.

Both Whitaker and Littlefield were as optimistic as one can be, after losing everything (they say they didn't have the home insured yet, as the title was in the process of being transferred).

So the couple say they're treating this setback as a reset button for their lives. They say they don't know what is next for them, but that moving forward is their only option.

"We both know that everything happens for a reason, and when bad things happen, it's just moving things out that weren't meant to be there -- and bringing in better things, bigger things." Whitaker said.

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

Comments

23 Comments

  1. All of my dogs sleep in my bedroom at night and my bedroom is right by the front door. She’s got fantastic dogs there to save her life like that. But if she has that place rebuilt she should think of having her bedroom on the ground floor.

        1. There are absolutely houses and materials to make houses (hempcrete) that are fire resistant and virtually fire proof. You do not know what you’re talking about.

          1. It’s being able to afford them. Since she didn’t have fire insurance or any insurance for that matter… I’m pretty sure she won’t be able to afford that luxury. Most people can’t afford something like that… having a fireproof house! And here’s an article for you to read…

            While it’s impossible to build a completely fireproof home, there are many precautions you can take to make your home as fire-resistant as possible. Here’s a step-by-step look at the measures you can work into your building plan and the materials you should use to protect your home against raging wildfire. You can also Google many articles on it… since you know what you’re talking about!

            1. Yeah, go reply to the genius above who just suggested when they build a new house to make sure to put the bedroom by the front door. That makes a ton of sense. It’s possible to do, I wasn’t talking about or interested in their budget.

    1. As a former Private Investigator/Insurance Claims Adjustor, there are several red flags for me: (1) Recently moved into an old home that has stood for decades and burns down within 3 weeks (2) Kids all ‘happen’ to be gone that night (3) Fire started outside? How do the investigators know this but claim to not know the origin? If they receive a big insurance payoff in the near future, my questions will be answered. I realize that my post sounds a bit paranoid/insensitive, but these are the kind of questions claims adjustors must ask.

        1. Insurance is available for properties going through title transfer, particularly if property is going to be inherited and occupied, and/or the estate is in probate. If they did not have insurance, it is because they did not buy it. Do you think every property going through title transfer is left bare? Insurance companies will cover virtually anything; you just have to buy it.

            1. I don’t think Zippy, the “former Private Investigator/Insurance Claims Adjustor”, gets it. No one without insurance would torch their own home. I can see why he is a “former”.

            2. So, you acknowledge that you were trying to create a poignant story about a woman being saved by her dog, make the story sadder by inaccurately implying that they could not insure the house? Then, to cap it off, you leave out the small detail that the house was undergoing remodeling, which might well have been the cause of the fire? and, that is what has become of your reporting? Sad?

      1. This statement is just sad to our family. We were not expecting to even have a chance at this home. With covid we had no idea we even had a chance at this home. We had to jump through some hoops since everyone on the will had passed within a couple year period. We where not even done moving in. We had to strip the en tire house out and remodel before moving in. So yes there was alot going on in a short amount of time. Also I have 3 children that go to their dads during the week so he can drop them off at school on his way to work. It makes me so sad that our world has come to bringing people down when their world crashes down instead of building them back up. Shame on you.

        1. People in the midst of tragedy should never read anonymous Comment section. I never anticipated that you would read this. That said, if one person reads my comments and takes all necessary steps to avoid this happening to them, then I am glad that I made my comments.

        2. That guy is an idiot. Even having been explained the stupidity of his comment, he can’t shut up and he’s glad he made it. Not many as dumb and sociopathic as him in these parts.

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