A family from Lakeville, Massachusetts, suffered significant property damage right before Christmas, but part of the holiday was saved — thanks to the fast actions of the fire department and a quick-acting neighbor.
"If I wasn't over there — if I was in watching the Patriots game — maybe a different outcome, unfortunately," said Roger Holmes, who gave his neighbors one heck of a Christmas present by helping save their house from fire.
"Another 15 minutes or something, it would've been all the way up into the attic and the whole house would've been engulfed," Holmes speculated about the weekend fire at his neighbors’ home.
Sunday afternoon, the Lakeville man called 911 when he heard loud popping noises. They were from the Cruz family's gas grill. The family's deck and side wall were on fire.
The Cruzes weren't there, but with a spare key, Holmes and a police officer got inside to coax the family dog out of the smoky room.
"The poor little guy was just coiled up in the cage and very scared," Holmes told NBC10 Boston Monday, adding that the dog appeared fine once outside.
As some firefighters controlled the spread of the flames, others worked to remove the Christmas tree and presents, protecting them from water and smoke damage.
"It's that time of year, so saving that stuff is just a little extra for the family," said Lt. Greg Bradstreet of the Lakeville Fire Department.
"We understand that we deal with the worst day of [residents'] lives every day," added Chief Mike O'Brien of Lakeville Fire. "It doesn't become routine to us, we're aware of it, and we just try to make that bad day a little bit better."
The losses to the home are all fixable, and the fire department said the Cruz family will be able to move back in once damage is repaired.
Along with the dog, a pet lizard and frog also survived thanks to the first responders and the quick-acting neighbor, who now has a new perspective this Christmas.
"I'll be thankful for what we do have and how quickly it can turn," Holmes said.
"Although the family will be out of their house this Christmas, I think we can all be grateful that the family can spend the Christmas together," O'Brien said in a public statement.
It took firefighters about two hours to extinguish the blaze Sunday afternoon.
The Cruz family said they weren't feeling up to talking to NBC10 Boston on camera Monday after a really rough night, but said they were just so grateful to be safe and be able to spend Christmas together.