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Saving even the smallest of lives
house fire
This is the aftermath of the home on Main Street in Calamine after a fire broke out Sunday night, June 23. - photo by Photo by Brian Lund

CALAMINE – No matter whom they happen to, fires can be devastating. They can happen without warning and take only minutes to cause destruction. It can be hard for the family loosing their home but the idea of loosing a pet can be even harder.

On Sunday, June 23 at 7:48 p.m., Darlington Fire Department and Green County EMS-Darlington were alerted to a house fire at 17054 Main Street in Calamine. The house became fully engulfed so nearby departments of Belmont and Mineral Point were paged to assist with additional water tankers.

Fortunately everyone in the home was able to evacuate. Unfortunately, the family pet guinea pigs were still in the home.

When the Darlington Fire Department arrived on scene they immediately got two water hose lines off of the first engine and began their initial attack from the porch on the west side of the house. The bottom third of the home was completely on fire.

Gus the guinea pig is seen here on oxygen provided by the Green County EMS-Darlington. Photo from the Darlington Area EMS Auxiliary.

Darlington firefighter and Police Officer Ben Conway stated that upon entering the home, there was zero visibility throughout the whole house, with the fire right at the front door.

“The guinea pigs were in the house on the opposite end of the fire. The room was so smoke filled and extremely hot. A window in the room had to be opened along with ventilation done to even know they were in the room,” Conway recalled.

He was located in a six-foot cage on the floor in the children’s bedroom. Conway saw the cage on the floor and found a deceased guinea pig. He wanted to bring the animal to the family so they could have some closure.

“I reached in the cage to grab the first one and then I saw something move, which happened to be Gus. As soon as I found him, he was removed from the house.”

Once both Conway and his furry friend were safely out of the house, he tried to locate the family but they had already left. The pet was given to the Green County EMS-Darlington squad who assisted with helping Gus breathe, using a pediatric breathing apparatus.

Ben Conway-gus
Firefighter Ben Conway carries Gus out of the home into the safe arms of EMS members.

Conway feels it was a team effort done by all the depar

tments together, but praises the work done by his own department.

“The reason for the save is because of the Darlington Fire Department as a whole. We have a great team and one of the best, if not the best chiefs in Ted McDermott, that makes sure all firefighters are prepared for any situation, which would even include saving someone’s pet as small as a guinea pig.”