BILLINGS - A Lockwood home was severely damaged Monday in an early morning structure fire and the homeowner said her family was unharmed thanks to an early alert from dogs in the home.

Alex Wiley said the fire was discovered at about 2 a.m. after she and her husband noticed an unusual amount of barking from their Boston terrier and two dogs they were watching for a friend.

“If it wasn’t for them it might have been too late for us to get out of the house,” Wiley said.

The Lockwood couple have six children ages six to 16 and all were able to escape the burning home without a scratch.

The family lived in the home on the 200 block of Suburban Drive for about eight years before the fire. They watched from across the street as firefighters worked to mop up the fire until about 6 a.m.

“It was horrible. We were just wondering if there was anything that was good in the house anymore, everything was just on fire, the garage and everything,” Wiley said.

Her family wasn’t allowed into the home as fire investigators processed the scene. They left the house with nothing more than the pajamas they were wearing.

Wiley said she didn’t know what could be salvaged from the home but one special item was already saved. She previously had a daughter pass away and firefighters found a box of her possessions tucked away in a closet.

The cause of the fire is unknown as of Monday morning. Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office and Lockwood Fire and Rescue are handling the investigation, said Capt. David McKinney, of Lockwood Fire.

McKinney said the fire started at the rear of the home but the precise ignition point was unknown early Monday.

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