CENTRALIA — When a firefighter carried Scooter, an 8-year-old shih tzu, out of the smoke-filled trailer, she was limp in the man’s arms and not breathing.
The dog’s owner, Star Hylton, said she knew her pet was dead.
One of the firefighters, however, placed a small, child-sized oxygen mask on the dog. Within a minute, Scooter lifted her head and was able to breathe on her own.
“It was a miracle,” Hylton said.
The accidental fire started in Hylton’s bedroom shortly after 6 a.m. May 20. Hylton, who sustained a burn to her thigh, and Richard Hamilton, the other person home at the time, managed to escape. Scooter, however, did not.
Hamilton said once he opened the door to get Hylton and the dog out of the bedroom, the flames on the bed were already knee high. He got Hylton out, but couldn’t get to the dog due to the heat of the flames.
Once outside the trailer, he called 911 and he and a neighbor sprayed fire extinguishers into the bedroom window, which had black smoke billowing out of it.
By the time firefighters arrived to the house, Hylton said, she was hysterical and kept telling the firefighters her dog was still inside the trailer.
“They had me partially in the ambulance,” she said. “But I wouldn’t go nowhere.”
Firefighters began searching for the dog, and found Scooter under a bed in the room where the fire started.
Once Scooter was revived, she was taken to Ford’s Prairie Animal Clinic, and her owner was transported to a hospital.
A week after a fire that nearly destroyed their trailer and killed their dog, Hylton said she is still distraught over the incident.
“It’s really hard for me to come back here,” she said Tuesday, looking at the blackened hole in the side of the trailer where the bedroom window once was. “It’s traumatizing.”
Scooter, who suffered smoke inhalation and neurological damage that causes her back legs to not work well at times, is continuing to recover. On Tuesday, despite the occasional coughing fit, the small dog’s tail constantly wagged as she ran around the yard.
Hylton said she has been with Scooter since the day she was born, eight years ago, and said she is thankful for the firefighters who saved their house by containing the fire to one room, and for saving her dog.
She said the fire was caused by “stupidity,” and happened when a cigarette burned through the plastic on her oxygen tank tube. Once the cigarette hit the pure oxygen, the flames quickly spread to her bed.
Both Hylton and Hamilton said they are awed by the amount of community support they received following the fire. Scooter’s vet bills, which totaled more than $750, were paid for nearly entirely by an anonymous donation and by Animal Services of Thurston County.
It is a bill, they both say, which would have been really difficult for them to pay without assistance.
Hamilton said friends, family and neighbors have come over every day to help him clean the bedroom and help him start to rebuild it.