[Note: this story has been modified since its original posting to correct errors.]
Tkachuk, a 11/2-year-old north highlands terrier, was rescued Tuesday evening after his home in the 2600 block of Quail Drive caught fire.
His owner, Mike Brinker, an assistant manager at McDonald’s, came home from work about 5:45 p.m. and smelled smoke near his rented duplex. He didn’t know the fire was in his home until he opened the front door and smoke began to billow out, he said.
Brinker was safely outside, but Tkachuk was still in the duplex kitchen. When Columbia Fire Department firefighters broke the child-safety gate in the kitchen doorway, the dog ran out the door.
“The dog is alive, so I’m happy,” he said. “That’s the only reason I’m happy at the moment.”
Firefighters found considerable damage to the ceiling, carpet and personal possessions in the lower part of the two-level apartment but no fire damage to the upper level or the next apartment. The department estimated the damage at $75,000, Assistant Fire Marshal Amy Barrett said.
Barrett said all the visible flames downstairs had been extinguished by 6:02 p.m., but firefighters remained at the scene after 8 p.m. to insure there were no hidden fires.
Investigators determined that vapors in the sewer line were ignited by the water heater’s pilot light, Barrett said.
The duplex’s owner, Kerby Mitchell, said he would do whatever he could to help Brinker and Tkachuk overcome the fire.