LUCKY the dog lived up to his name after firemen brought him - plus two pet hamsters - back to life after a Bank Holiday blaze.
Three Fire and Rescue Service crews were called to the house after an off-duty firefighter spotted smoke on his way back home after finishing from his turn.
Gareth Ellis raced around to the front of the house and, seeing even more smoke, shouted through the letterbox and when he could get no reply, immediately phoned 999.
Unbeknown to Gareth at the time, he had stumbled across a mid-afternoon fire caused by an electrical fault in the kitchen of the home.
Because it was unclear whether anyone was inside, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) sent three fire engines from Atherton and Leigh stations so that crews could search the house for people on their arrival.
As firefighters arrived and were breaking into the house to search the house and fight the fire, resident Julie Hughes and her children Greg, 15, and Bethany, 13, were arriving at the house in St George’s Road, Tyldesley, at the same time.
Julie said: “I was in the car with the kids and my mum and we saw the fire engines race ahead – we were joking about how it might be my house.
“I just couldn’t believe it when I saw it was, I just abandoned my car and we were all really worried about Lucky.”
Atherton GMFRS Watch Manager Ian Gardener said: “The young lad came round the front of our fire engine and was very worried about their pet dog. When the lads brought him out he was black because he was covered in soot.
“We found him cowering in the kitchen, which is where the fire started behind the washing machine.
“To say he was lucky is an understatement so his name is very apt indeed.”
But while crews wearing breathing apparatus were putting the fire out, they found a pet hamster inside a cage in the kitchen.
Mr Gardner said: “To be honest, the hamster was completely motionless so we thought it was dead.
“All the animals had taken in a lot of smoke.
“We got another hamster out of an upstairs bedroom and it was unconscious as well - both looked like they were goners.
“We made a make-shift oxygen tent out of a small plastic bag and gave both hamsters a small amount of oxygen and they both came round.
“We didn’t think it was going to work, but it did and the kids were really happy.”
Mrs Hughes said: “I just want to thank the firefighters so much they saved the dog’s life, and the hamsters.
“One of them was in the kitchen and her water bottle on the cage had melted, I just don’t know how they survived it so I’m so grateful to the firefighters.
“I didn’t know one of them lived nearby and he phoned 999. I’m just counting my lucky stars because I usually have the washing machine on at night, things could have been so different.”