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‘Miracles Happen!’ Dog found days after 5-alarm fire at apartment complex near JMU

Posted at 10:07 PM, Mar 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 02:53:02-04

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- A James Madison University student's dog has been found alive two days after a fire tore through an apartment complex near the school in Harrisonburg.

Firefighters were called to the five-alarm blaze at the Southview Apartments in the 1000 block of Lois Lane just after 12:05 p.m. Thursday.

Harrisonburg Fire officials said ‏"all occupants were safely evacuated" just after 1:20 p.m. and that the fire was contained around 1:45 p.m.

Fire at Southview Apartments

Fire at Southview Apartments

Kayla Marie Blake, a fifth year senior psychology major from Midlothian, said she made it back to what remained of her former home for the first time on Saturday.

“I finally got out and looked at the building,” Blake said. “I saw the window of my room, and I couldn't believe how much was still left compared to the rest of the building.”

That is when Blake said she heard a familiar bark coming from her third-floor apartment.

Blake said she was excited, but also "really scared" because she worried Rebel might be injured. As a result, she immediately called police and firefighters.

“I just wanted to know that he was going to be ok,” she said.

Kayla Marie Blake and Rebel

Kayla Marie Blake and Rebel

Blake said once firefighters opened the door to her apartment and made their way into her bedroom, they found Rebel hiding under her desk. And Rebel was not happy to see the strangers.

"He was growling at them," she said. "Then he started barking and didn't stop until he saw me enter the room."

A crowd gathered outside the apartment building cheered as Blake carried Rebel out of her apartment and down the stairs.

“Rebel is alive! My boy is alive,” Blake wrote. “Miracles happen!”

Blake said firefighters told her that having her bedroom door closed saved Rebel's life.

"I cannot even begin to understand how he survived,” Blake said.

And Blake said other than a burn to his nose, a veterinarian who checked over Rebel said she would have never known that the dog had lived through a fire.

Blake said she adopted Rebel from the Richmond Animal League three years ago.

"On the first day I met him..., I knew he was my dog," she said. "Rebel is quite the goofball. He's so sweet and smart."

Blake said that after the fire, everything in her apartment is a total loss.

"Rebel was the only salvageable thing in the room," she said. "I'm just happy I have my best friend back. The rest can be replaced."

Fire investigators said Friday evening that the blaze was caused by "improperly discarded smoking materials."