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'This very easily could have been a fatal fire': Pet cat credited with saving owner's life during Exeter, Ont. fire

Interior damage was extensive following an early morning fire at a duplex on Victoria Street in Exeter, Ont. on Dec. 4, 2023. Fire Chief Jeremy Becker says the tenant was lucky to be alive because the unit had no working smoke alarms. (Scott Miller/CTV News London) Interior damage was extensive following an early morning fire at a duplex on Victoria Street in Exeter, Ont. on Dec. 4, 2023. Fire Chief Jeremy Becker says the tenant was lucky to be alive because the unit had no working smoke alarms. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)
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Damage was extensive to a duplex on Victoria Street in Exeter following an early morning fire.

Fire crews from Exeter and Dashwood arrived to the 145 Victoria St. shortly before 8 a.m. to see smoke billowing from the front door.

The lone tenant and his pet cat made it outside by the time fire crews arrived, thanks entirely to the cat’s incessant meowing, according to the local fire chief.

“One [side] of the duplex had smoke alarms, the other side did not. The individual is lucky that his cat woke him up. This could [have] turned out very differently. Smoke alarms are an inexpensive safety device. Everybody needs to have a working smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm in their house,” said South Huron Fire Chief, Jeremy Becker.

Extensive damage is seen following a fire at duplex on Victoria Street in Exeter, Ont. on Dec. 4, 2023. Chief Jeremy Becker says the unit did not have any working smoke alarms, and the tenant was lucky to get out alive. (Scott Miller/CTV News London)Becker said South Huron has over 160 smoke alarms to give away as part of a recent partnership with Enbridge. He encourages anyone who can’t afford a smoke or CO alarm to drop by the South Huron fire hall to get one, free of charge.

Monday morning’s blaze — which Becker believes was electrical in nature and is not considered suspicious — could have been a fatal fire, if not for the tenant’s cat.

“This very easily could have been a fatal fire. If that individual didn’t wake up from his cat making as much noise as it was, he could have very easily succumb to the smoke,” said Becker. 

Chief Jeremy Becker of the South Huron Fire Department talks about how a tenant was lucky to be alive after having no working smoke alarms inside his apartment, following a fire on the morning of December 4, 2023-Exeter-today-Scott Miller

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