Family dog saves Elwood family from house fire

Fire sparked by lightning destroyed Ronald and Lorrie Brysons house.

Thunder shook them from their beds, but it was the smoke from fire caused by lightning that forced an Elwood couple out into the rain.

Ronald and Lorrie Bryson say their dog saved their lives. She alerted the couple their house was on fire.

It's one of those stories we've heard before. A couple asleep at home in the middle of the night when the dog won't take no for an answer. It keeps bugging them, keeps pawing at them until they get up and, in this case, it saved their lives.

Ronald Bryson was walking through his ravaged home, lit by the gaping holes firefighters left behind in the ceiling when he said, "This was all new and, as you can see, it's destroyed and you can't even get to the bedroom."

His wife Lorrie was standing by the front door repeating, "Thank God for Christmas. Thank God for Christmas."

She was not talking about the holiday. She's talking about the rare all-white German Shepherd they brought home on Christmas Eve eight years ago.

"She's the hero. She is the hero. She is the hero," is all Lorrie could say as the two reunited with their dog in Alexandria. Christmas is getting a hero's welcome at a kennel until the family can determine new living arrangements.

Earlier in the day, the Brysons shared their story with Eyewitness News as we walked through what is left of their home. Lorrie started remembering, "She smacked the bed. She smacked the bed and she was so persistent. I thought she wanted to go outside, so I got up, smelled the smoke, yelled at him and we got out."

Ronald then chimed in.

"She said, 'We gotta get out of here. There is smoke.' I got up and that is when I looked in that hallway and looked upstairs and I could see the glow then," he said.

Their home for the last 35 years, in fact, the only home they have ever known as a couple, was on fire.

"They said the fire was so hot upstairs that the water was actually turning into vapor before it hit the flames. It was that hot up there," Ronald said.

"She's an angel," Lorrie said.

The home is a total loss, but the Brysons are still thankful that Christmas came a little early this morning.

The Brysons say they plan to rebuild at this location. The reason being, their next door neighbor is rebuilding as well. His house burned down last April. These folks say they don't want to part, so everyone is rebuilding on this corner in Elwood.