Family Dog, Daughter Credited For Saving Duluth Home From Fire

DULUTH, Minn. — A Duluth Heights man is crediting his 12-year-old daughter, Zoe, and the family’s 3-year-old lab, Dudley, for saving their home after the nearby garage went up in flames Wednesday night.

Zoe School Pic

12-year-old Zoe Radzak

“If she didn’t come down screaming, it would have definitely gotten to the house, and it would have been a different story. So Dudley and my daughter did a phenomenal job,” said Zak Radzak.

The Radzak family’s garage on the 4100 block of Chambersburg Avenue was the nighttime heated kennel for Dudley.

Dudley is described as full of energy – and he surely used it Wednesday night when the fire started to burn with just minutes to spare before it was too late.

“I was standing right about there, going, we’re going to lose the house, we’re going to lose the house, because the flames were as tall as those trees,” Zak said.

Zak also described what it was like to watch his garage go up in flames — a garage that meant more to him than a place to store vehicles.

“I got a wood shop in the back that’s almost a total loss. My welder, my cut and torches, everything. I’ve been saving these tools since I was 8 years old. I’ve been a tinker my whole life. I lost it all. I lost all my hobbies in one night,” Zak said.


3-year-old Dudley

The working garage was also Dudley’s heated bed time space.

“That’s where he sleeps. Got his bed in there and everything. So we put him in the bed about 9 o’clock. Went to bed myself right after that,” Zak said.

But about an hour later, that normal routine changed very quickly — thanks to Dudley and his 12-year-old daughter, Zoe.

“My daughter came running down and said Dudley’s in the garage barking and I see smoke, I think the garage is on fire. So I ran outside in my undies and was able to get into the garage, get the door open and scream for Dudley. There were no flames at that time, but within 15 minutes the whole building was engulfed. Fire department did a great job,” Zak said.

It was a great job because firefighters kept those flames from reaching the house just inches away. But the fire department said in a news release that it was really Zoe’s quick actions and Dudley’s call for help that saved the home.

No firefighters were injured during the deep freeze firefight, but Dudley suffered singed hair, as you can see from the orange-looking fur, and Zak burned his hand.


Radzak family’s garage after fire

“Burnt my fingers up, and just like they tell you in the kids’ school, don’t touch the door if there’s a fire, and I grabbed the door,” Zak said with a smile. “I think that’s where I burnt it because my adrenaline was going.”

But Zak said he’ll heal fine and tools can be replaced. He’s just glad his family is OK.

“You always think, what the hell does it matter because I’m here. But it’s true, after being through it, it’s true. Ya know, I’ve never been through something like that. I’ve been through a war in Iraq, and it’s a different situation. You got your wife and kids here, so, different deal all together,” Zak explained.

During our interview Thursday, Dudley was being his same-old hyper self.  Zake’s wife, Heidi, told FOX 21, Dudley will be getting an upgrade to a bigger suite in their home.  But she said, Dudley loved the heated garage and could do whatever he wanted at night.  It was designed like a play areas for the kids, too.

A cause of the fire is under investigation.

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