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House fire claims couple's beagle

MILLS RIVER — A couple lost a two-year-old beagle named Fred in a house fire overnight Monday and the young man who lived there suffered burns when he re-entered the home trying to save Fred, Mills Fire & Rescue Chief Rick Livingston said.

Mills River firefighters responded to a 911 call at 12:07 a.m. Monday to 10585 Boylston Highway where a barn converted into a residence was in flames.
“They actually lived on the second floor,” he said. The residents, Mason Owen and Lily Crofut, were able to save two goats who lived downstairs. Their cat Stumpy survived, too, but has gone missing.
Owen “tried to get back inside,” Livingston said. “He had first-degree burns on this face and second-degree burns on his ears. He was transported to the hospital and they released him. He didn’t have to be admitted.”

A Go Fund Me post appealed for help for the young couple.
“Anyone who knows Mason or Lily knows they are selfless people who have the biggest hearts for animals of any kind,” the post said. “They have worked very hard to rescue and save most animals they have come across.”

When the fire broke out, “they hurried to get all the animals downstairs and outside but sadly, Fred, their 2-year-old beagle, did not make it. All of their livelihood and belongings were inside and it is a total devastating loss. As a young couple they have invested so much into this house and their many loved animals.”

In a Facebook post, Crofut pleaded for people to be on the lookout for Stumpy, a light-orange tabby.

"He is probably terrified as he has never spent a day outside let alone a cold night," she wrote. "Please keep your eyes open for my baby. We have lost enough, I can’t handle losing him."
Time for chimney and flue inspections

The fire started in a flue that carried smoke from a woodstove.
“It was a two-story home that had a single-wall flue pipe that ran from the wood stove to the outside,” Livingston said. “Creosote built up in the flue pipe. There was an elbow where it goes through the wall. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times.”

The owner of the home is listed as Mason's late grandmother, Monica Owen.
With the first overnight lows of the season dropping below freezing, homeowners who burn wood should have their flue or chimney inspected by an expert, the chief said.
“My advice would be anyone who burns wood — in a wood stove or fireplace, it doesn’t matter — they need to get a certified chimney sweep to inspect and clean if needed the chimney,” he said.
A certified chimney sweep can use a special camera to spot problems in a chimney or flue.
“That would be money very well spent,” Livingston said.

He recommended homeowners get the inspection done at least once a year before burning wood and more often than that if they burn unseasoned firewood. Pine and other evergreens are especially prone to cause buildup of the flammable rosin.
“That’s where all your creosote comes from,” Livingston said. “And that creosote ignites and when it does you’ve got a mess.”