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Published: Saturday, 12/29/2012

Firefighters rescue man, dog from burning North Toledo house

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Courtney Brewer, left, and her daughter Oneisha Williams, 15, hold the mask used by firefighters to save a dog outside of its Buckeye Street.  The dog's home is in the background at right. Brewer and Williams live in the house at left. Courtney Brewer, left, and her daughter Oneisha Williams, 15, hold the mask used by firefighters to save a dog outside of its Buckeye Street. The dog's home is in the background at right. Brewer and Williams live in the house at left.
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A critically injured 89-year-old Toledo man who was rescued from his burning North Toledo home early Friday morning perks up at any mention of his dog, also rescued from the house, according to a family member.

James T. Smith of 3341 Buckeye St. was on a ventilator and in critical condition later Friday at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center after suffering from smoke inhalation.

“He’s definitely more responsive than he was this morning,” said his granddaughter Shaconda Carter of Toledo. “When we talk to him about his dog, that’s when he responds. He still has a ways to go, but we are hoping for the best.”

Ms. Carter is taking care of Sparky, a 12-pound spaniel mix found unconscious in a bedroom and feared dead when he was initially taken out of the house.

After caring for Mr. Smith, firefighters used a pediatric oxygen mask to revive the 10-year-old dog, said Toledo Fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld.

“We have a quantity of masks made especially for dogs, but pediatric masks can also be used,” said Lieutenant Hertzfeld, noting that city firefighters revive a handful of dogs each year.

The fire remains under investigation, Lieutenant Hertzfeld said. Damage was estimated at $9,000, he said.

The house had no smoke detectors, he said, adding that anyone interested in receiving a free smoke detector may obtain one from any Toledo fire station.

Courtney Brewer, Mr. Smith’s next-door neighbor, said she smelled smoke about 1:30 a.m. and called the fire department.

Ms. Brewer also temporarily took in Sparky until family members retrieved him.

“He loves his dog,” Ms. Brewer said. “He sits on the porch with him all the time. His dog is his best friend.”

Ms. Brewer said she does not consider herself a hero, even though her 911 call more than likely saved her neighbor's life.

“I’m just glad I was there to call,” she said. “He’s a good neighbor. He’ll do anything for anyone.”

Mr. Smith has lived in the one-story wood frame home for 60 years, Ms. Carter said. An Army combat veteran of World War II, he is retired from the Toledo Country Club, where he was employed for 50 years, most recently as head of housekeeping services.

“He knows everyone in the neighborhood, and they know him,” Ms. Carter said. “He’s the type of guy who leaves his phone on the porch for others to use. He’s really generous.”

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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