Dog helps owner to escape serious injury

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The old adage about a dog being a man's best friend is one that County Commissioner Joe Woods would say is true. Not only is his dog a good friend to him, it also saved his life.
   Around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, firefighters from across the county were called to Woods' residence on Snow Bird Lane to extinguish a fire. When they arrived on scene, they found Woods lying in his driveway, according to Melissa Lindberg, a firefighter with the Watauga Volunteer Fire Department. "We picked him up and sat him on the truck, and I put my coat around him to keep him warm," she said.
   Firefighters and Carter County Rescue Squad personnel treated Woods for lacerations to his knee which he sustained while getting out of the residence. "He busted out the living room window and came out through there," Lindberg said.
   While emergency personnel were treating Woods, a County Commissioner from the Third District, he told them what happened while he was inside the home. According to Woods, he was sleeping and was awakened by one of his three dogs barking at him. He then saw that his home was on fire. "That dog saved my life," Woods said.
   According to Lindberg, all of Woods' dogs were able to escape the residence. "All three dogs made it out alive," she said.
   The fire, which damaged the home that Woods shared with his wife Ruby, who was not at home at the time of the blaze, started in the basement of the residence, according to firefighters on the scene.
   "It started in the heat pump and burned through and spread into the duct work and then spread into the living room and part of the kitchen," said Watauga Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ben Colbaugh.
   Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire and limited the amount of damage. "We had heavy smoke and heat damage to about half of the home," Colbaugh said. "The fire damage was contained to the living room and kitchen." Colbaugh added that the basement area of the home, where the fire had originated, sustained heavy fire damage as well as smoke and heat damage.
   Firefighters from the Watauga, Stoney Creek and Hampton Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the scene to battle the fire.
   Woods was taken to Sycamore Shoals Hospital by Carter County Rescue Squad personnel for treatment for a knee injury.