Lenoir firefighter's rescue of puppy brings praise, jokes

Feb. 21, 2013 @ 12:07 PM

Kenny Nelson, a firefighter for 31 years, went to Lenoir Fire Station No. 2 Tuesday morning to conduct training drills when the call went out about a fire at 309 Glendale St.

He had none of his gear with him to work a fire, but he saw an empty seat on Engine 6 and hopped on.

Within minutes, the crew arrived to the sight of a young, distraught mother, Kayln Miller, carrying three young children in her arms.

As Nelson tossed ladders off the truck, he noticed firefighters Roger Whisnant and Kelly Johnson carrying four small dogs out of the burning house. One was not moving.

“The chief hollered out, ‘Can you help me with this one?’” Nelson said.

He immediately began artificial respiration and providing oxygen. Before long, the dog began to breathe on its own, and is now OK.

By the time he got home, video of Nelson reviving the little dog had been run on Charlotte-area mid-day TV news shows.

“My (mother-in-law) called my wife (Karen),” Nelson said. “She said, ‘I heard you were on the news, I’m proud of you.’”

Back at work on Wednesday, Nelson took his share of firehouse ribbing from the other firefighters who had watched the news and seen photos on the News-Topic’s Facebook page and in Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper.

“They like giving me a hard time,” Nelson said. “I think it’s a stress reliever for them.”

Nelson deflects praise for the canine rescue, and instead turned to talk of the children who were at home at the time of the fire -- James, 3, Jacob, 2, and Domanick, 17 months. A fourth, 6-year-old Johnny, was in school at the time.

“We were all concerned about the children,” Nelson said.

“The real heroes are the guys who fought the blaze and helped get the kids to safety.”

Investigators say the fire was started by either a lava lamp or electric heater just feet away from Domanick’s crib. He had second-degree burns over 40 percent of his body and had surgery Wednesday at Wake Forest Baptist Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem. He was listed in fair condition Wednesday afternoon.