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Brave Firefighter Risks Life To Save Dog Trapped Inside Blazing Barn

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For many people, pets are family. That’s what firefighter Ryan Balmer had in mind last weekend when battling a huge blaze and finding out a dog was trapped inside.

The fire broke out on Dec. 19 shortly before midnight at a barn on Erbs Quarry Road in Warwick Township, Pennsylvania, according to WPMT-TV. When the Lititz Fire Company arrived, 25-year-old Balmer was told that a dog was trapped in one of the lower rooms.

In one of the videos, you can see the owner run up and tell the firefighter that his dog is still inside, then wait anxiously a short distance from the building.

Video from the scene clearly shows the top of the barn engulfed in flames. The situation didn’t look good.

But Balmer had to try.

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“If that’s my dog in there I would want someone to go in and try to get it out,” he told WPMT. “We have a saying in the fire service, ‘risk a lot to save a lot.’ For that family I’m sure that dog means a lot.”

He approached the building and tried to coax the dog out through the window.

The large dog — which appeared to be a black labrador named Sambo, according to comments on the post — was wagging but clearly nervous, and he backed away from the window.

“I was hoping it was going to jump out the window,” Balmer explained. “It didn’t want to. It kinda got scared and ran back in.

“So at that point then I made the decision to bust the window out, climb in, and help the dog out.”

It took some work to break the window out so the fireman could get into the room, but eventually, he managed to clear the way, climb in and hoist the large pup out through the window.

Once the dog was out, he took off running toward the crowd gathered at a safe distance.

He landed on glass and while he may have gotten hurt, he was able to get to his people and avoid a fiery end.

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The Lititz Fire Company No. 1 shared video of the nerve-wracking event, both from a spectator position and later from the helmet cam that Balmer was wearing. Many have commented that they were on the edge of their seats watching the footage.

“Typically when we arrive at a Barn Fire, especially when [it’s] fully involved when we arrive, we treat the situation as a ‘surround and drown’ which means we surround the structure, protect any nearby exposures, and put massive amounts of water on the fire until it goes out,” the fire company posted.

“First in crews are responsible for stretching handlines, establishing water, etc… its not often a Barn fire is a rescue situation, but in this instance, it clearly was.

“We’re thankful for the quick actions of Firefighter Ryan Balmer on that day to save the life of the Pup!”

“Being a dog owner,” Balmer added, “being Christmas time, it would’ve been a huge damper on the holidays to not have been able to get that dog out.”

Thanks to Balmer’s willingness to enter the burning building and rescue the pup, the family will still be complete this Christmas.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking