Rhonda McCrory's friends and family members don't really like her Pomeranian, Buddy, because of his grumpy disposition. They'll probably change their minds now.

As flames swept through the kitchen of her Pecan Boulevard home, his barking awakened her just in time so she and her children could escape without injury.

"No one else likes him because he's moody and grumpy ... but he was my miracle," McCrory said as Buddy nervously ducked under the fire marshal's truck, watching as the investigator and Kosciusko firefighters looked for clues in the ashes. "He saved our lives."

She got her children -- Megan, 14 and Austin, 12 -- to go to different neighbors' homes to call 911 while she got the keys and backed a pickup out of the driveway.

"As soon as I backed out, not five seconds later, it just fell in," she said.

She also grabbed shoes for herself and the children.

"My parents' house burned about 25 years ago, and I just remembered all the glass popping out everywhere, and there they were barefoot ..." she recalled. "I don't know why I remembered that."

Her husband, Martin McCrory, was at work at the Nissan plant in Canton when the fire broke out just before 1 a.m. He was filling in for a friend, working the night shift for the first time.

Mrs. McCrory said the flames "took no time" to spread from the kitchen to the rest of the house.

"When I looked in the kitchen, all I saw was smoke and fire," she said.

When firefighters arrived, four minutes after the 12:53 call came in, flames were already coming out the front door and a window, Kosciusko Fire Chief Duane Burdine said.

"It was 60 percent involved," Burdine said.

The last KFD unit left the scene at 5:04 a.m. and some firefighters were back at the house helping with cleanup by 8 a.m.

The family's other dog, a poodle, and one cat escaped. Another cat, a 9-year-old named Precious, was still unaccounted for Monday morning.

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