They are salvaging memories from the charred interior of the two-story home on Bay Road in Riviera Beach after the owner was awakened just after 11 p.m. Wednesday unaware that fire was spreading through the ground floor below.
"She smelled smoke and she heard something over and over again that sounded like, 'Bang! Bang! Bang!', over and over again, and after the fact, she was told that was the glass that was breaking in the house on the lower level,” said Kathleen Smith, the victim’s daughter. “They both got up and ran out of the house and tried to save both of the dogs, but were only able to get one."
The victims looked on as the fire trucks arrived to try to douse the flames hopeful the German Shepherd mix had found a way out.
"Forty-eight firefighters were dispatched and quickly brought the fire under control within 20 minutes," said Lt. Erik Kornmeyer of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. "Unfortunately, a dog was not able to make it out of the house. We did recover the dog for the family."
While the family is saddened by the pet's death and now face the long process of trying to build back their home and their lives, Kathleen Smith says she's just thankful that her mother and a close friend made it out in time.
"I've lost one, but I never thought anything like this as far as fire. I never thought that would ever be possible. Never," said Smith, "I'm just very thankful. I just keep on looking and I think they're just items. Everything is rebuildable (or) replaceable, but you can't get your loved ones back."
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, but at this point, there's no sign that it was arson and the family suspects it may have started in the downstairs wiring.