Labradoodles in The News

by

Santa Cruz, California
Labradoodle Saves Owner from Santa Cruz Cottage Fire

By Jennifer Squires
Sentinel staff writer
Rescue dog

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Matt Carcerano says he and Bella will return to their morning jaunts on Its Beach soon. (Jennifer Squires/Sentinel)
SANTA CRUZ — Hours after the fire, Bella wouldn’t venture into the backyard.

“What happened to your house?” Matt Carcerano gently asked Bella, his 16-month-old blonde “Labradoodle,” as he shined a flashlight into their fire-ravaged two-room cottage on South Park Way.

“The dog won’t even go out there,” he said.

Firefighters credit Bella with saving Carcerano from the blaze.

It was just before 3:30 a.m. Monday when Bella woke the 32-year-old welder for Granite Construction. The mix of “growl, whimper and bark” roused him after only an hour of sleep — he’d gotten home late from a trip to San Francisco — and just in time to rush out of the flame-engulfed cottage.

“It was weird. I was sound asleep and she made noises I’d never heard before,” he said. “I opened my eyes and it was just orange”

The floor-to-ceiling wall heater in the 50-year-old Eastside cottage was on fire.

Mike Venezio, a Santa Cruz Fire Department battalion chief, called Bella a lifesaver. There were no smoke detectors in the studio.

In socks and pajamas, Carcerano ran through the flames to get a garden hose, but the water inside it was frozen and just “dribbled out,” he said. So he woke Kyle and Karla Wade, his landlords and longtime friends who live in the front house.

Kyle Wade went for a fire extinguisher while Karla called 911, then gathered her family’s dog and Bella — a cross between a Labrador and a poodle — to watch the firefighters from inside the main house.

Sixteen firefighters, three engines and a fire truck fought the blaze, which also burned the Ward’s storage shed, and controlled it within 10 minutes, Venezio reported. Crews stayed on scene for hours, pulling piles of smoking clothes out of the cottage.

“They had a challenge,” Kyle Wade said. “It kept smoldering”

Firefighters countywide have responded to several heater-caused blazes and chimney fires this month, which they attribute to residents cranking up the heat during the cold snap.

“More heating devices are being used,” said John Lucchesi, a Santa Cruz Fire battalion chief. “Sometimes they get a little bit careless”

A floor furnace sparked a fire on Berkshire Avenue on Sunday, causing $150,000 in damage to the house. Last week a blaze traced back to a mattress leaned against a wall heater in a Live Oak apartment killed the resident’s cat.

The fire in Carcerano’s cottage was accidental, officials said. It caused $120,000 damage to the building and Carcerano’s belongings; he could only save photo albums as he rushed out.

“I gotta go buy shoes,” Carcerano said, forcing his size-11 feet into a pair of borrowed white Adidas sneakers, size 101/2.

Monday night, Carcerano’s charred belongings still littered the backyard. His bed was reduced to a blackened frame and the heat melted his other belongings, but Carcerano was good-natured, considering the situation.

“There are two ways you can act,” he said. “You can be completely mad or move forward”

The Wards plan to rebuild the cottage and Carcerano said he has lots of options, calling the fire a “pitchfork in the road”

“It’s good to have good people in your life,” he said.

And he has Bella, who should be back for her two-hour morning excursions at Lighthouse Field and Its Beach soon.

“I think she knew she needed to get me up,” Carcerano said. “She got me out”

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