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Barking Dog Saves Residents From East Village Apartment Fire

By Della Hasselle | January 4, 2011 7:56am | Updated on January 4, 2011 11:06am

By Gabriela Resto-Montero and Della Hasselle

DNAinfo Staff

EAST VILLAGE — A dog named Rugby saved two people from an East Village fire that broke out early Tuesday morning.

Jonathan Burke, who lives on the fourth floor of the apartment building at 69 Second Ave. at East 4th Street, said his 2-year-old cockapoo started barking furiously when he smelled smoke, waking his owner.

"The dog saved our lives," said Burke, who then fled with his roommate down the building's fire escape where they were rescued by firefighters. "They came up and got us, it was really smoky."

Seven residents were treated for minor injuries and six were taken to Beth Israel Hospital after the fire broke out just before 4 a.m., the FDNY said. The fire broke out inside of East Village Farm Groceries on the first floor of the six-story building, the FDNY said.

Charred debris litters the corner off East 4th Street near Second Avenue.
Charred debris litters the corner off East 4th Street near Second Avenue.
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DNAinfo/Gabriela Resto-Montero

Later in the morning, after the fire was out, residents were let back into the building to try to retrieve belongings.

Robbin Schwartz, 39, grabbed three suitcases full of items and her cats.

"I pretty much packed up valuables and papers," she said. "I'm going to my uncle's, but I have to find some place for my cats because I dont want them to stay here."

Burke praised the FDNY for their quick response and for evacuating people from the fire escape safely.

The flames were under control after 5 a.m., fire officials said.

The owner of the building was at the scene but was too distraught to speak with reporters.

Resident Steven Sylvester, 24, was heading to stay with friends ater the fire. He took some solace in that he had renter's insurance.

"Im concerned about my stuff. I'm not going to be happy until my stuff gets replaced," he said. "I didn't even have any shoes when I evacuated. It's kind of an interesting situation to be left with nothing."

Rugby the the cockapoo saved his owner from the fire by barking to sound the alarm.
Rugby the the cockapoo saved his owner from the fire by barking to sound the alarm.
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DNAinfo/Gabriela Resto-Montero