A PET dog has been hailed a hero after rescuing its owners from a house fire.
Ben Mackings was at home in North Guards, Whitburn, with his partner Karl Watson when their tumble dryer burst into flames.
But thanks to their three-year-old German shepherd Roxy, they made it out alive.
Karl, 27, said: “Roxy saved our lives.
“We’d be dead if it wasn’t for her. She’s our little hero.”
The couple had been sat in the living room of their upstairs flat when Roxy raised the alarm.
Ben, 25, a call centre worker, said: “We’d just had our dinner and were sat upstairs.
“The tumble dryer is downstairs in the kitchen and I’d forgot about putting it on really.
“Roxy always just sits at the door when she wants in the room, but she was scratching at it and really desperately trying to get in.”
Karl, who works at BT in South Shields, added: “I got up to open the door and let her in and the smoke hit me in the face.
“It was so thick I could barely see, but we had no idea.
“Five more minutes and it could have been a lot worse.
“Down the stairs and through the kitchen is our only escape route from the flat too.”
A fire crew from Fulwell station were alerted to the fire by a passer-by, who phoned to say smoke was coming out of the building.
They arrived at about 9.15pm on Thursday to find the blaze had already been tackled.
Karl said: “I jumped out of the window onto the kitchen roof and saw that it was the tumble dryer, so I shouted up to Ben to turn the electricity off and we managed to put it out.”
Ben added: “I think the shock hit me when I saw how much smoke there was and when the fire brigade arrived.
“I dread to think what might have happened if we’d been out – Roxy would be dead, and if we didn’t have her, we could be dead.
“It’s scary to think about what could have happened.”
It is believed the fire was started by a quilt cover which jammed in the mechanism of the tumble dryer.
Fire-fighters also fitted a smoke alarm and carried out a home safety inspection.
Ben said: “We’re really grateful to the firefighters for fitting a smoke alarm and it’s definitely made us think about it.
“Everyone should make sure they’ve got one and shouldn’t ever go out and leave an appliance like that on.”
Karl added: “I would never think that a tumble dryer would just set on fire like that.
“It’s just scary to think about the what-ifs.
“I think we’ll just stick to hanging our washing up in the yard from now on. Thankfully we had Roxy there with us.”