‘That’s why I became a firefighter’: Virginia Beach responders recount saving dog from high-rise fire

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – There were a lot of things for Virginia Beach firefighters to be concerned with as they raced toward a high-rise fire at the Oceanfront Sunday morning.

“We just heard it was a high-rise fire,” said Virginia Beach firefighter Jospeh DePalma.

“You have the battle just going up the stairs, to begin with,” added firefighter Cody Brenon. “You don’t have to normally deal with that in a normal house fire.”

The fire was in a 15th-floor unit at the Mayflower Apartments on 34th Street.

“There was a lot of smoke,” Brenon said. “It was kind of hard. We had some issues trying to figure out where we were going to go.”

When crews got the apartment they found Igor, a Siberian husky, unconscious. His owners weren’t there at the time.

“I’m going to guess he was 100 pounds,” Brenon added. “He was a big husky.”

Brenon carried the dog down a few flights and handed him off to DePalma.

“I was hoping it was going to be a Chihuahua just based on being on the 15th floor of an apartment building, so I didn’t think I’d be carrying a big husky down the stairs,” DePalma said. “It wasn’t breathing. It wasn’t moving at all. It was very limp.”

When they got Igor outside, they used special oxygen masks donated by the community to get him some air.

“We all picked the dog up on the stretcher and threw him in the back of our nice new vehicles,” said Virginia Beach Animal Control Officer Christine McQueen.

Animal control rushed Igor to the vet. With the joint efforts from first responders, his life was saved.

“It feels great,” McQueen said.

“It felt really good to know that he made it through it,” Brenon added. “That’s why I became a firefighter.”

Animal control took the family items for Igor that were lost in the fire. Officers say they are always looking for donations

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