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5-month-old golden retriever saves Missoula man from fire at condoPosted on July 6

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A puppy saved its owner early Sunday morning when fire engulfed the deck of a two-story condominium rental at 2009 S. Fourth St. W. in Missoula.

James Cramer said he could have died if it weren't for his 5-month-old golden retriever named Willow, who woke him around 4:30 a.m. with incessant barking.

It was one of the many blazes fire crews scrambled to over the weekend, and although they arrived on the scene before the fire engulfed the house, Willow was the hero, Cramer said.

"I got up to see what was the matter and saw the deck in flames," he said.

Cramer's first instinct was to get Willow out of the house, and then return to get other important things, like his car keys and wallet.

In but moments his upstairs apartment was overcome with smoke, the glass windows blew out from the heat and the scene turned frightful.

"It was pretty scary and it's hard to describe what happened because things changed so quickly, and I was out of there before the smoke alarms were sounding," he said. "It was Willow's bark I heard long before the smoke alarms."

The fire, which is estimated to have caused about $35,000 in damages, remains under investigation.

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