'An alarming bark': Dog alerts owner to fire at Somers church
A fire at a church in northern Westchester County could have been a whole lot worse - and now the congregation is thanking both firefighters and a local dog for saving their building.
A short in the lights that illuminated a huge cross sparked a fire at Yorktown Assembly of God Church in Somers in the middle of the night.
A German shepherd named Bear who lives across the street smelled the smoke and alerted his owner, Kim Lewis.
"I was awakened by Bear, he had an alarming bark, it was very unusual," says Lewis. "I opened the blinds and I saw the church on fire."
Lewis called 911, ran across the street and woke up Lisa Wain, who lives next door to the church and works there as an administrator.
Crews from seven firehouses rushed to the scene to put out the flames.
Lewis says fire officials told her that if the fire had raged for 10 more minutes, it would have spread through the attic and the whole building would have been lost.
Most of the damage is on the outside of the building, but one would never know by looking at it. There's smoke and water damage inside the sanctuary that the church says will now force them to take their services outdoors.
Lewis says things have been tough financially for the church this past year because of COVID-19. Not as many members show up to services in person.
In addition to that, the church also runs a pre-school that has now had shut down because there's no power in the building.
Despite all these setbacks, the congregation remains thankful to their hero firefighters and to Bear, whose bark saved their church.
Church officials say it will cost a little more than $50,000 for repairs to the building. A GoFundMe site has been created to help financially.