Bellefonte

Thanks to alert dog, man escapes from burning building in Bellefonte

Buster, a 7-year-old coonhound-Labrador mix, jumped on the bed of owner Tom Hester to wake him up and the two safely found their way out of the smoked-filled apartment above the Verizon store on the corner of South Allegheny and Bishop streets in Bellefonte on Sunday, January 25, 2015. Hester, Buster, and a tenant in another apartment gor out safely.
Buster, a 7-year-old coonhound-Labrador mix, jumped on the bed of owner Tom Hester to wake him up and the two safely found their way out of the smoked-filled apartment above the Verizon store on the corner of South Allegheny and Bishop streets in Bellefonte on Sunday, January 25, 2015. Hester, Buster, and a tenant in another apartment gor out safely. CDT Photo

Tom Hester was surprised when his dog Buster jumped into bed to awaken him Sunday morning.

The 7-year-old coonhound and Labrador mix doesn’t do that and usually has to be pulled onto the bed, Hester said. Then Hester noticed his apartment on the second floor of 141 S. Allegheny St. was filled with smoke, and he had to use his hands to feel his way out of the apartment.

A fire in the Verizon store on the first floor of the building was the cause of the smoke that led Buster to awaken his owner.

Nearby Undine Fire Company got the call about 9 a.m., and flames were quickly put out, Fire Chief Jim Pressler said. The fire was contained to the business, he said, but the apartments upstairs sustained smoke and fire damage.

Another tenant also escaped without injury.

Logan Fire Company in Bellefonte, Citizen’s Hook and Ladder in Milesburg, Alpha in State College and Pleasant Gap Fire Company also responded.

Verizon store owner Eric Bruckner said the store is insured and he plans to repair the damage and reopen the business. The fire was limited to the front corner of the store, and he’s happy the location is not a total loss, he said. He owns two other stores and will be able to shift merchandise around until the Bellefonte location reopens.

“I’m glad everyone got out OK, and I’m thankful for the volunteers,” Bruckner said.

A camera system was recently installed in the store and wasn’t damaged. Bruckner said he hopes to use video footage in the investigation on the cause of the fire.

Another business, Sheila’s Clipper Cuts, shares the storefront of the building and suffered smoke and water damage.

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