SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A dog owner says the ‘miracle’ survival of his dog from an Oak Park apartment fire remains a giant mystery.
On Friday night, Jarrett Gautt left his dog Brownie, a 3-year-old Border Collie/Chow Chow mix in his Oak Park apartment to go to dinner with family.
“When I left, I left him with a piece of steak in the dining room. Locked the door and left,” said Gautt.
Hours later, Gautt returned to a home on fire
“I see fire in the house, blazing up,” said Gautt.
Desperate to find Brownie, Gautt grabbed a fire extinguisher and opened the front door, but didn’t make it far.
“Almost got disoriented as soon as I went in a couple feet. It was thick, black smoke,” said Gautt.
He then smashed one bedroom window with the fire extinguisher and called for Brownie, but the smoke was overwhelming. By then, upset neighbors were struggling with their own emotions.
“He's trying to get his dog,” a neighbor is heard yelling in cellphone video.
In that video, Gautt is seen breaking another bedroom window. The headboard is blocking him, and he can't get in. A tendon in his finger is sliced. Soon after, fire crews arrive and back him from the scene.
"I felt like I couldn't save him, like I let my dog die,” said a tearful Gautt.
After 40 minutes of despair, a neighbored point to a flash of white in a parking lot, about 15 yards from the apartment.
“Then I just started running full speed. He’s weaving in and out of the fire trucks … Big hug and picked him up, and all the neighbors came out,” said Gautt. “He's definitely a miracle, a miracle Brownie.”
Remarkably, Brownie escaped unharmed. His survival remains a mystery. Nobody saw Brownie get out. One fire investigator said Brownie may have slipped out the front door, sometime after Gautt opened it. It’s likely Brownie’s true method of escape will never be known.
“It's a mystery I think about. Just thankful, just thankful,” said Gautt.
The fire damaged several other apartments. Investigators have ruled it accidental, but haven’t released a cause.
Gautt, who lives with his sister, says nearly all of his possessions are gone. They did not have renters insurance.
A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the family with expenses.