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Firefighters battled this two-alarm fire at 106 Willard Way in Plaistow Tuesday morning. Jason Schreiber/Union Leader Correspondent 

Plaistow man, dog escape burning home

PLAISTOW - A homeowner and his dog crawled to safety Tuesday morning when a two-alarm fire gutted their house.

John O'Connor said he was asleep when he heard a smoke detector go off at his house at 106 Willard Way shortly after 9 a.m. He ran for a fire extinguisher, but the fire, which appears to have started in the living room at the front of the house, was too intense, he said.

With the smoke hovering above him, O'Connor, 47, said he crawled on the floor and found his 12-year-old dog, a shih tzu named Dudley, hiding under the kitchen table.

"Thank God he didn't run from me, that's all I have to say," he said.

The two were the only ones home at the time and managed to escape. O'Connor said his hair was singed by the heat, but otherwise he wasn't hurt.

The fate of his two cats, Simba and Sweeney, wasn't known. He feared they may have perished in the blaze, which continued to smolder at 11: 30 a.m.

O'Connor said he wasn't sure what may have started the fire. He said he has a woodstove, but it wasn't being used at the time.

Plaistow Fire Chief John McArdle said the cause wasn't known. He said the front of the house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

"Our goal was to preserve what we could," he said.

While the main house was heavily damaged, an area attached to the house that O'Connor uses for his business building customized motorcycles was saved.

O'Connor lives at the residence with his wife, Susan, and son, Michael, both of whom were not home at the time. Firefighters from several area towns responded to the scene and the Plaistow fire station to assist Plaistow firefighters.

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