Ethyl, a 13-year-old retriever-fox-hound mix, knew something was wrong when she got to the top of the stairs of the two-story apartment building at 3120 Beach Boulevard S. in Gulfport.
She whined. She balked. Her eyes fixed on the door of the empty apartment next to the one being renovated by her owners, Liz and Steven Drzymalski of St. Petersburg. It was unusual behavior for the pooch, who is usually cooperative and calm.
“Ethyl is not a barker,” Liz said Monday, February 6. “But she was adamant about that door. Something was there.”
So Steven, who had just returned with Ethyl from a walk that Saturday, January 28, took note and stepped up to the apartment door. That’s when he heard the fire alarm going off and smelled something burning.
“The fire department came and they busted open the door,” Liz said. “Smoke came billowing out and they had everyone evacuate the building.”
Firefighters found the air handler from the AC unit in the attic smoldering, Gulfport Fire Chief James Marenkovic said Tuesday. “All the insulation and ductwork was kind of burned and charred. …
“That smoke detector and that little dog probably saved that building a lot of damage,” he added, putting in a pitch for the importance of installing smoke detectors and keeping batteries fresh.
During a photo session Monday at the Drzymalski’s apartment, Ethyl seemed oblivious to her valiant behavior. She sat when told to sit, posed with her best pal and playmate, Toonces, a 3-year-old grey tabby, and did everything she was supposed to.
“She’s just the perfect companion,” Liz said. “She loves her cat and her family. We’re the luckiest folks in the world to have found her.”