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Retired PGFD Lt. Billy Mills teams up with ‘Lassie’ like black lab for rescue. Woman pulled from Bowie, MD house fire.


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Kristina D’Ambrosio,

The barking of a family dog and the quick work of a retired Prince George’s County firefighter helped save a woman when a fire broke out at a two-story home on Friday in the 16300 block of Pond Meadow Lane in Bowie, Md, according to Prince George’s County fire officials.

The fire caused extensive damage to the home.

Officials say the woman was taken to a local hospital with smoke/burn injuries which do not appear to be life-threatening. According to spokesperson Mark Brady, a retired “fire lieutenant rescued a disabled occupant and brought her to safety” just before 10 a.m. Friday.

Rescue due: Pumpkin (l) and Retired PGFD Lt. Billy Mills (r).

Retired Fire Lt. Billy Mills was in the area of Pointer Ridge on his way to a store Friday morning when he saw smoke. He arrived at the home at the same time as the first firefighters reached the scene. He went to the rear of the house where he saw a black Lab scurrying around the back yard. When the dog saw Mills, he went to the sliding doors at the back of the house and barked nonstop while looking inside, Brady said.

The frantic dog, an 8-year-old Lab-mix named Pumpkin, alerted Mills to an adult woman on her knees and unable to move inside the home. Mills entered the house, pulling the woman out to the back yard. She had suffered smoke inhalation and burn injuries.

The cause of the fire is under investigation and loss estimates are still being established. The home is unsafe and not livable, according to fire officials.

Pumpkin, the canine hero, is being held at County Animal Control until his owner is released from the hospital.

Press release from PGFD’s Mark Brady:

A retired Prince George’s County Fire Lieutenant pulled a disabled female occupant out of her burning Bowie home this morning. Just after 10:00 am firefighters were alerted to a house fire with a report of a person trapped. Fire/EMS units arrived at the 2-story single family home in the 16300 block of Pond Meadow Lane with heavy fire showing and immediately requested additional resources, a Task Force, be dispatched.

Retired Lt. Mills was in the area of Pointer Ridge on his way to a store when he saw a column of smoke. He followed the smoke and after 20 years in the Fire/EMS Department he instinctively knew that the smoke he saw was from a structure on fire. He arrived at the same time as the first arriving firefighters from the Bowie Pointer Ridge Station #843. As those firefighters were donning their personal protective equipment including self contained breathing apparatus, Mills went to the rear of the house to perform a 360 check of the structure. This 360 check is a standard function for initial arriving firefighters to gain a quick assessment of fire and smoke conditions from all sides of the structure. When he entered the gated back yard he encountered a black lab that was frantically scurrying about the back yard. When the dog saw Mills, the faithful pet went immediately to the sliding glass doors on the back of the house and barked continually while looking inside. Following the dogs lead, almost as if Lassie was signaling trouble, Mills looked inside the home and saw an adult female on her knees that was unable to move any further. Knowing that the female, surrounded by thick smoke and intense heat, was in dire need of removal, Mills entered the house by going inside about 4 feet and pulled the female out and to the backyard. She had already sustained burn and smoke inhalation injuries.

Mills and another citizen carried the female to the front yard where medics quickly took control of the patient, treated and transported her to a Burn Unit for treatment. Thankfully, in part due to the actions of retired Fire Lieutenant Billy Mills and the family dog, her injuries do not appear to be life threatening.

Firefighters made an initial entry into the home to extinguish the fire and conduct a search of the house. Due to heavy fire and hoarder’s condition inside the home, firefighters were evacuated and knocked down the bulk of the fire from the exterior of the home. Once conditions inside the home were tenable, firefighters re-entered the home to extinguish the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Fire loss estimates are still being established. The home is unsafe and not livable. Additional information will be updated upon arrival. 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Fire21

    It always helps to be in the right place at the right time, but not everyone would risk their life (without turnouts) to save another. Congratulations Lt. Mills, REALLY well done!!

  • Anacostia County

    Excellent job by one of P.G.’s best firemen. One with a long family history in the fire service.

  • Doing it.

    I thought staffing levels were low when you had to rely on ticks. I had no idea they were so low you needed retired guys.

  • OldCityCaptain

    Hell of a job!!!

  • Susie

    “What happened to Pupmkin, the dog who alerted the fireman?”