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Dog saves owner in close call with fire: Man loses belongings in fire at rural Warsaw farmstead

WARSAW, N.D.--Matt Ebertowski's family credits the family's dog, a pitbull-coonhound mix named Lady, plus an assist from above, with saving his life when a fire destroyed a farm shop and a camper in which he had been sleeping Sunday night.

WARSAW, N.D.--Matt Ebertowski's family credits the family's dog, a pitbull-coonhound mix named Lady, plus an assist from above, with saving his life when a fire destroyed a farm shop and a camper in which he had been sleeping Sunday night.

"Basically, the coonhound saved his life," his father, Duane Ebertowski, said.

Matt Ebertowski, who recently moved back home from Williston after being laid off from an Oil Patch job, has been living with his parents, Duane and Carol Ebertowski, north of Grafton, N.D.

He also has been spending time at the family's farmstead near the bank of the Red River about 8 miles north of Warsaw and staying overnight in a camper inside the farm shop, a Quonset building with electric heat and a wood stove, his father said.

"We love it out there," said Duane Ebertowski, who grew up on the farmstead. "We go out there and watch the deer and the eagles."

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Temperatures overnight Sunday dipped well into the single digits below zero.

Matt Ebertowski was sleeping, along with his other dog, a black Labrador named Astro, inside the camper in the shed that night, his father said. Lady was sleeping outside the camper.

Matt Ebertowski was awakened at about 1:30 a.m. Monday when Lady started barking.

"She was barking like crazy," Duane Ebertowski said of Lady, a rescued stray that has been with the family for about two years. "When Matt came out of the camper, it was already full of smoke in there."

He said Matt Ebertowski got the dogs out of the building and then emptied a fire extinguisher and used water available in the building, trying to douse the flames.

However, the flames were out of control.

Minto (N.D.) and Oslo (Minn.) fire departments arrived within about 25 minutes. The farmstead is located about 12 miles north of Oslo and 15 miles northeast of Minto.

A state fire marshal determined the fire started in the wood stove, which has been used in the building for the past 15 years, Duane Ebertowski said.

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"The building is still standing, but it looks like a burned-out ... burn barrel," he said.

Though he did not immediately seek medical help, Duane Ebertowski said his son suffered smoke inhalation and lacerations on his face from trying to find an exit in the smoke-filled building.

The dogs, Lady and Astro, are doing well, he said.

Matt Ebertowski lost all of his belongings, including his clothes and wallet.

A GoFundMe page has been started to raise money to help the Ebertowski family.

In a Facebook post, Carol Ebertowski said the dogs normally do not spend much time together. However, they left Lady at the farmstead Sunday, with Matt and Astro, when they left to return home.

"Don't even really know why," she said. "The building is a total loss, but we are so grateful Matt is safe. We are so blessed to be able to talk about God's grace in this situation."

Related Topics: FIRES
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