3 dogs' barking warns man of house fire

he escapes

Blaze, called an accident, does about $500,000 damage


John Miller, 19, of Highland owes his life to three noisy dogs who he said woke him at 2:30 a.m. yesterday -- in time to flee the flames and heavy smoke spreading through his family's two-story frame house.

Miller was asleep on the first floor of the house in the 13200 block of Styer Court, he said, and never heard a smoke alarm. He woke up to the loud barking of Toby and Matty -- his two black Labradors, and a basset hound named Rascal, who were upstairs.

"I just had time to run out," he said later yesterday, sifting through the charred wreckage of the garage and family room with several friends. Only the chimney remained of those two rooms, and the adjoining wall to the main house was burned through and blackened. Heavy smoke and water damage was evident inside the main structure and on the roof.

The two-alarm fire drew more than 50 firefighters from Howard, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and did an estimated $500,000 damage, said William Mould, a spokesman for the county's Department of Fire and Rescue Services. No one was injured.

Mould said the fire was accidental and began on a rear deck, possibly from smoking. John Miller was home alone while his father, John C. Miller, was visiting Ocean City for the weekend.

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