CHICAGO - A fire damaged four houses and three coach houses early Thursday in Fuller Park on the South Side.
Residents in the 4900 block of South Princeton Avenue said they woke up and saw the blaze, smelled smoke and woke up their families before running out.
Eight people were displaced and multiple dogs were rescued, including four puppies, that were given oxygen.
Many of the structures collapsed and firefighters did an extensive overhaul of the site.
Coy Freeman was sleeping soundly in his home early Thursday when his service dog Rello began making a lot noise.
"He was barking outrageously and scratching on the door," said Freeman. Then he noticed that fire and smoke was filling the coach house where he and his uncle lived.
"We grabbed as many dogs as we could before the smoke got so bad the firefighters wouldn’t let us in there," said Freeman, 43.
They saved three dogs and five puppies, but three didn’t make it.
"I’m heartbroken," Freeman said. "I spent every moment of my life taking care of these dogs. I’m visually impaired and I love the dogs."
He credited Rello for alerting him to the blaze. "The dog woke us up… He’s the hero."
Officials said there was heavy fire in the back of the houses but fire investigators have not determined the cause.
They say there were working smoke alarms, which saved lives.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.