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Deliveryman: Dog rescue was `no big deal'.

Byline: Bill Fortier

AUBURN - A Siberian husky will be heading into the New Year thanks to an alert oil deliveryman.

A fire that started in the kitchen-dining room area of a home at 20 Chestnut Ave. was quickly brought under control by firefighters just after 7 p.m. Friday. No one was home at the time of the fire at the house owned by Benjamin C. Ellis, according to Fire Chief William A. Whynot.

However, the dog was saved because John B. Lajoie, a deliveryman for Al's Oil Service in Worcester, happened to be in the neighborhood.

Mr. Lajoie of Worcester, who has been delivering oil in the area for about 22 years, noticed what he called mist in front of the house when he drove by.

"I thought it might have been coming from a dryer but then I realized it was too warm for that," he said Monday while running his oil delivery route.

Mr. Lajoie said he looked through a window inside the darkened house and saw flames and heavy smoke.

"It was pretty thick," he said of the smoke.

He was able to get into the house through the front door. He said he yelled out to see if anybody was home but he didn't get any reply.

"I thought maybe somebody was sleeping," he said when asked what made him go inside the house. "Thank God nobody was home."

Just after entering the house, Mr. Lajoie reported the dog came running up to him and went out the front door and into the front yard.

Mr. Lajoie downplayed his quick actions responding to the fire.

"It's no big deal," he said. "I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."

On Friday, Mr. Ellis credited Mr. Lajoie with saving his dog's life.

Mr. Lajoie said he met Mr. Ellis, who thanked him for his efforts, later on Friday night. Chief Whynot said yesterday the cause of the fire is undetermined.

He said the blaze, confined to the kitchen and dining room, is not considered suspicious.

Chief Whynot estimated the damage at $20,000.

He said Mr. Ellis stayed at another location in town after the fire.

ART: PHOTO

CUTLINE: The house at 20 Chestnut Ave., after it was damaged by fire.

PHOTOG: T&G Staff/DAN GOULD
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 2, 2008
Words:386
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