WATERTOWN — Ashley L. Parry was awakened early Thursday morning by her dog nibbling at the back of her leg and biting her hand, alerting her that flames were spreading along the ceiling above her.
Oreo, an energetic pit bull that turned 3 on Valentine’s Day, tried to pull her under the bed to safety.
But she jumped out of a first-floor bedroom window of her South Massey Street apartment. Firefighters found Oreo underneath her bed.
And now the 64-pound pitty — named for his black and white markings — is being called a hero.
“The police, the firefighters, everyone said he saved my life,” Ms. Parry said.
Oreo suffered burns on his nose, mouth, stomach and leg but is recuperating. Thanks to a State Street veterinarian who donated Oreo’s treatment, the burns are already healing.
Ms. Parry will be forever grateful for Oreo’s bravery and awareness that alerted her to the fire, which extensively damaged her apartment, leaving her belongings charred in the building at 210 South Massey St.
“I lost everything,” she said.
When she got out of the five-unit building at South Massey and Stone streets Thursday morning, she pounded on windows to alert her neighbors.
Her upstairs neighbor, Whitney Neely, also credits Oreo with saving everyone in the building.
Mrs. Neely was still in the hospital after giving birth a couple of days earlier to a son, Prince. They’re staying at a friend’s house until they can go home.
In all, 10 tenants were displaced by the fire, including the baby. Two families are now staying in apartments in an adjacent converted carriage house on the property.
The others are trying to find temporary housing until the apartment building can be repaired, Ms. Parry said. That could take a month. Her apartment was so damaged she’s doesn’t know where she’ll be living next.
Ms. Parry has known Whitney Neely for more than 20 years.
She feels badly that Whitney and Carolyn Neely are going through such rough times when they have a newborn. They also are mourning the death of Carolyn’s nephew, Jordan Neely, who was killed on a New York City subway May 1. His death made national headlines and triggered public outcry.
“My heart goes out to them,” Ms. Parry said.
The fire, next door to the South Massey Street fire station, began shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday.
Firefighters contained the fire to her apartment, but the other units suffered mainly smoke damage, according to the Watertown Fire Department.
Investigators suspect that a power strip behind the refrigerator in the kitchen ignited the quick-moving blaze.
Firefighters also saved another dog that was in another apartment, Fire Chief Matthew R. Timerman said. That “big dog” was uncooperative and had to be coaxed outside, he said.
On Monday evening, Ms. Parry brought Oreo to the fire station to thank firefighters for saving him.
“I’m grateful for everyone,” she told the fire chief.
Outside the fire station, Chief Timerman was introduced to the hero dog, and Oreo showed his thanks with some kisses.
“He’s a lover, not a fighter,” Chief Timerman said.
Inside, she talked to fire investigator Matt Carpenter, who was at the scene. Firefighters found Oreo under the bed and put him in an ambulance to check him out.
Since the fire, Oreo won’t leave her side, Ms. Parry said. Her parents rewarded Oreo with a steak on Mother’s Day.
“He can have anything he wants,” she said.
Ms. Parry had a cut on her face and injuries to her hand and shoulder from the fall after jumping out of the window. No one else was hurt.
The American Red Cross has been helping the displaced tenants.
Ms. Parry hopes that the community will be generous and come together to help her and the other tenants impacted by the fire.
She has a GoFundMe account to help her get through until she finds some place else to live. Visit the GoFundMe page at wdt.me/masseystreetfire.
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