MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A family on Long Island says they survived a fire thanks to their beloved pet.

Their Massapequa home went up in flames overnight, but they all got out safely after they were alerted by their cat.

On Tuesday, workers boarded up what’s left of the home on Gloucester Road. Neighbor David Dash says just after 1 a.m., he realized the home next door was burning.

“I started to hear some popping, I started to hear some banging, and then some yelling,” he said.

Dash took a photo of the flames on his cell phone, showing how quickly the blaze spread. Across the street, neighbor Mark Salamack leaped from his bed. He was stunned by what he saw.

“The whole right side of the house was engulfed, parts of the house were falling on the car,” he said. “The white car blew up.”

Salamack and his wife ran across the street and saw the family inside had escaped into the backyard and were struggling to get over a fence.

“The husband started handing the dog and kids over the fence to my wife, then the husband got down on his hands and knees so his wife could get on his back. She climbed over,”  Salamack said.

The homeowner, Peter McEvoy, on Tuesday met with insurance adjusters. He was too shaken to speak with CBS2.

McEvoy and his wife, Susan, have two young children. They told neighbors they were sleeping when flames erupted, but were awakened by their long-time family cat.

“Peter… said the cat was acting strangely, clawing at him and jumping on the bed,” Salamack said.

Sadly, the cat named Houdini went missing and is presumed buried amid the rubble.

Neighbors say like many others on the block, the family had just finished rebuilding following severe damage from Superstorm Sandy.

Now, they plan to start a fund to help the McEvoys rebuild once more, and hope that the cat whose insistent meowing saved the family will somehow safely reappear.

Investigators aren’t sure of the cause of the fire, but they believe it began in a trash can.

Comments (8)
  1. So while their neighbors were fighting for their lives: “Dash took a photo of the flames on his cell phone, showing how quickly the blaze spread.”

    1. Fred Stevens says:

      First responders have an incredibly dangerous job – and that’s even with oxygen tanks and protective clothing. Look at the intensity of that fire. Dash would have quickly been overcome by smoke had he done anything other than just take video. I don’t know the guy, but apparently he understands the meaning of the expression “discretion is the better part of valor.”

  2. I never like Cat Stevens.

  3. Damn that is sad. Bless that cat. May it be eternally fluffed in heaven.

  4. Jeffrey Gee says:

    One by one the friendly tabby had dragged each family member out to the street and out of harm’s way by the scruff of their neck… LOL yeah right, must be a slow news day!

  5. Jim Spencer says:

    The cat lost it’s life but not before saving others. That family will soon need another cat, maybe two.

  6. We are double protected from fire… We have both cats & smoke detectors!

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