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Bayfield man’s quick actions save dogs

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Jim Cornett describes rescuing three dogs who were trapped near a burning structure on Saturday in Bayfield. Two of the dogs ran out on their own after Cornett used his Leatherman tool to cut the fence, but he had to pull the third dog out. “He just kept running into the fence. It was like he was blind.”

By Shane Benjamin Herald staff writer

A man’s quick actions saved the lives of three dogs last weekend in Bayfield.

Jim Cornett, owner of South Street Garage, said he looked out his window and saw flames and smoke coming from a mobile home.

“I ran down there, and when I got close enough to see, I yelled back at my customer to call 911,” he said.

Cornett discovered three dogs trapped inside a pen with flames licking at the enclosure.

“I was able to pull a bunch of boards and free the dogs,” he said. “Their fur was warm to the touch.”

The fire was reported about 11:40 a.m. Saturday in the 100 block of East South Street in Bayfield. The mobile home and a shed were destroyed.

Bruce Evans, chief of the Upper Pine Fire Protection District, said the fire was started by a space heater used to keep the animals warm.

“They probably would have burned to death if they stayed in there,” Evans said.

After freeing the dogs, Cornett entered the home to make sure everyone had escaped, including additional pets. The house was clear, he said.

Steve Schmidt, a mechanic who works for Cornett, tried to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher while Cornett was inside, he said.

Cornett suffered minor smoke inhalation while inside the house, he said. He felt the lingering effects of a headache Monday.

The dogs eventually returned home, and they were doing well Monday.

“I was really glad,” he said. “It would have been a real bummer to have gone through all that and have one hit by a car.”

Cornett said he has received considerable attention since the fire.

“The attention makes me feel uncomfortable,” he said. “Bayfield is full of good men, and I like to think anyone would have done the same thing.”

Efforts to reach the occupant of the mobile home were unsuccessful.


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