CA firefighter helps save dog from fire exactly 21 years after his dog was rescued

ByVanessa Vasconcelos via KFSN logo
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
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The crews that day not only gave Rob Lee 8 more years with his best friend; it inspired a career path.

FRESNO, Calif. -- Helmet cam video worn by firefighter Rob Lee shows the inferno California crews were faced with in Southeast Fresno.

Video shows the moment flames, investigators say were ignited by fireworks, tore through the home on First and Platt.

If you look closely through the thick smoke, a daring rescue.

"There was a firefighter already inside tending to a dog and they were trying to get the dog out," Lee said. "The dog had already bit that firefighter, so they were trying to get the dog out of the structure safely."

Because of the dog's weight and size, it was a team effort to pull him to safety.

It was an effort Lee says they'd gladly put forth again.

"Houses can be rebuilt but dogs can't be replaced," he said.

What the video doesn't show is that 21 years prior to the day, a then 6-year-old Lee would meet his heroes from the Fresno Fire department.

"I was that child on the doorstep and a firefighter was giving my dog to me," he said.

Fresno firefighters pulled Lee's dog, Mackie, from his childhood home before flames from a 4th of July fire destroyed it.

The crews that day not only gave Lee 8 more years with his best friend; it inspired a career path.

"That left a profound impact on me," he said.

After graduating from University High School, Lee entered the fire academy at Fresno City College before joining Fresno Fire's Explorer Program.

After several years of fighting fire with the forest service and various Central Coast departments, he landed his dream gig with Fresno Fire.

"It's an absolute honor," Lee said. "I can't believe that I get to do this job."

A job that gave him the opportunity to return the favor.

The homeowner and Veteran in Friday's fire says his dog, Sampson, is being treated for smoke inhalation, and he looks forward to thanking Fresno Firefighters for saving a member of his family.