A PET dog has been hailed a hero for saving a family of four after alerting them to a blaze at their home on the outskirts of Belfast.
Bella, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, barked to warn the family that their house in the Campsie Park area of Dundonald was on fire.
The family, including a teenager and a young child, were sleeping upstairs when they were woken up by Bella's "unusual" barking at around 1am yesterday.
The fire had broken out in their kitchen of the two storey mid-terrace property when a tumble dryer caught fire.
There was no working smoke alarm fitted at the property.
Relative Sophie Campbell said her aunt, uncle and cousins were alerted by their dog, who did not usually bark.
"They were in bed and they heard Bella barking and Bella would never usually bark, so they got up, one of them ran down the stairs and whenever they hit the living room they obviously saw that there was a fire," she told UTV.
"They went into the kitchen and luckily there were able to get Bella out of her cage. They went up the stairs and rang the fire brigade."
The family were trapped in the house as they were unable to escape through the back door because of the fire and the front door as the key was in the burning kitchen.
Firefighters attended the scene and entered through the back door and extinguished the fire, which was contained in the kitchen.
They used thermal imaging cameras to locate the family and led them to safety. The family were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and taken to hospital for further checks.
Ms Campbell added: "They're devastated from what I know, I was talking to my auntie, she was absolutely devastated, the kids are traumatised, my two cousins, one’s 12 or 13 and the other’s seven. They're traumatised because nothing like this has ever happened to them."
Michael Harkin of the Fire and Rescue Service said it was believed the blaze began accidentally when a tumble drier caught fire.
Mr Harkin warned: "You must have a working smoke alarm - if you don't have one go out and buy one today.
"If anyone has removed a battery from their smoke alarm or removed it, replace it today."