Originally Published: February 9, 2016 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - A German shepherd mix, Misty, is being hailed as a hero after alerting a family to a fire that ultimately destroyed their home.
Misty is being credited with saving the mother of her recently deceased owner to a 3 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, shed fire that enabled the 71-year-old woman to rescue her two, sleeping granddaughters, ages 2 and 16, before flames engulfed the house, burning it to the ground.
This tragedy on Mosher Lane came just weeks after Judy Laurvick buried her son, Kevin Perry, 50, the owner of the house and father of her granddaughters, Addison, 2, and Briar, 16, said Laurvick's sister, Sharon Kessler of Meridian, Idaho.
"This family has suffered so much loss," Laurvick said, noting she only returned to her home last Tuesday after attending her nephew's memorial service. Perry died on Jan. 15. "It's a miracle they escaped."
When her cellphone indicated a call from her sister at 9 Saturday morning, Kessler answered with a sense of dread, she said. Still, Kessler was not prepared for her sister's announcement that a fire had destroyed Perry's home, she said.
The Fire Marshal's Office is still investigating an official cause, but preliminary investigation suggests the shed blaze that spread to the adjoining home started as a result of improperly disposed wood ashes.
"It's just unbelievable. I think I was in a state of denial. She (Laurvick) said the dog woke her up," Kessler said. "She thought there might be somebody outside because she saw a bright light. Then she moved the blinds, and saw the fire."
Dressed only in a nightshirt, her sister and the dog raced to wake the girls and help them escape, Kessler said.
"And my sister's not a healthy person. She's on oxygen most of the time. Her machine burned up in the fire," Kessler said of her sister, whose health prompted her about two years ago to come and live with her son in Prescott. Kessler said Perry was the family's breadwinner as operator of a local sober living home.
From pictures of the fire, it is likely without the dog's alert to danger Laurvick and the children might have become trapped, Kessler said.
Prescott Division Chief/Fire Marshal Don Devendorf confirmed the dog's reaction likely spared the family as they were able to get out before the house ignited and filled the interior with smoke and flame.
Laurvick, too, is grateful for her son's dog, who proved the family's protector in his absence.
"It's just all so overwhelming," Laurvick said on Monday afternoon after undergoing crisis counseling with her teenage granddaughter and visiting the emergency room for her youngest granddaughter. "I feel so fortunate we're all well and safe, and that Misty alerted me fast enough that I could get the girls up, get a blanket around them, and get them out of the house. I'm extremely grateful."
As for her quick response, Laurvick said she managed to go into what she described as "auto drive."
"That's just what you do," Laurvick said.
The local American Red Cross chapter arrived at the scene to help the family get temporarily resettled, Kessler said. She and Laurvick praised Addison's mother for her immediate willingness to give them all a home until the insurance issues are unraveled and more permanent arrangements are made.
Kessler and Laurvick said Perry was revered in the community because of the impact he made on so many young adults. His Facebook page is filled with inspirational messages from those he has helped over the years. Kessler and Laurvick said they find comfort that so many people are already embracing the family as they work to rebuild after losing everything, most importantly, their treasured memories of Perry.
A GoFundMe account was established to assist with expenses.
Her voice quavering with emotion, Laurvick said she appreciates the extension of so many helping hands.
"Everybody has just been so generous," Laurvick said.
Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2041, or 928-642-6809.