80-Year-old man lucky to be alive after a fire destroys his home

80-Year-old man lucky to be alive after a fire destroys his home

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YUMA, AZ - An elderly man recognized by many in the community as the Sam's Club greeter is without his home and two dogs after a fire destroyed his house early Sunday morning.

Firefighters say within three minutes heavy flames and smoke took over his house in the 1000 block of east La Casita Drive in Yuma. Neighbors say the home belonged to an 80-year-old man named Tony who works at Sam's Club and greets customers.

Firefighters say Tony was inside the home when the fire started and was sleeping in the living room on the couch when he woke up to the sound of fire exploding. They say he was able to get out the front door, but was unable to get his two dogs out safely and they remain missing.

The flames could be seen from blocks away and had many concerned neighbors outside their home after hearing what sounded like firecrackers. Tiffany Bowkamp a neighbor says she was on her way home from Wal-Mart and thought it was her house and was scared. "Flames were hitting us the next street over when we realized it wasn't our house or a friends we just felt sad someone lost their house right before Christmas."

Firefighters continued to investigate the fire Sunday morning. They say the fire started from a gas heater inside the home and was accidental. They say the owner Tony is receiving assistance from Red Cross. Neighbors say Tony cared deeply for his dogs and often referred to them as his family.

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