Woo-Hoo! I bet the fireman is a betta owner.
January 06, 2010
WEST YARMOUTH — Heroes come in many different forms.
Early on Dec. 21, when Cindy Charest heard her Australian cattle dog Lola barking and the smoke detector sounding, she knew something was wrong.
She woke her husband, David Franklin, who went to check the fireplace where, the day before, the couple had stoked a fire during the snowy weekend storm.
"I could hear this crackling," Franklin, 62, said more than a week after the couple's ranch on North Road caught fire, leaving them homeless in the days before Christmas.
The "crackling" was coming from the floor beneath his feet, something Franklin discovered after he checked the home's smoke-filled basement.
He quickly told his wife to grab the couple's twin 8-year-old daughters, Chanel and Chenoa, and get out of the house.
They also saved Lola and the family cat but in the confusion a pair of betta fish were left behind, devastating the young girls.
"They were crying, asking if their fish were OK," said Charest, 39, over coffee in the trailer now parked beside the home. Lola, seemingly unaware of her new-found hero status, lay beneath the kitchen table.
A week earlier as Yarmouth firefighters fought the blaze and asked whether there was anyone else in the home, Charest mentioned the fish.
Within minutes, firefighter Joseph Mullen walked out of the smoky home balancing a fish bowl in each hand.
"The kids were clapping," Charest said.
Mullen and the other firefighters are part of a long list of people Franklin and Charest have to thank for turning what could have been a Christmas tragedy into a lesson in charity and community spirit.
"Material things can be replaced," Charest said. "Everybody got out. That's the important part."