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The State : Dog’s Yelping Saves Hamlet

Several residents of the historic town of Locke in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta credit a barking dog with helping to save the hamlet of tightly packed wood-frame buildings from an inferno that destroyed up to 40 boats. Most of the damage in the fire was confined to a 980-foot-long boathouse and its contents. The boathouse was built in the early 1900s and is listed on the federal register of historic places. Bette McMillan said her 11-year-old dog, Modred, a Norwegian elkhound who had survived a fire as a puppy, was trained not to bark--without a reason. When Modred began yelping, McMillan said she thought “we had a prowler. I asked him, ‘What’s wrong with you? Why are you barking?’ Then I looked up and saw a column of smoke from the boathouse.” Before it was contained, the fire threatened to demolish the town founded by Chinese settlers in 1912. No injuries were reported.


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