A Wanganui family's dog is being hailed a hero for saving two children from tragedy when it alerted their mother to a fire in a bedroom on Monday night.
The dog's incessant barking drew the children's mother outside, where she saw flames coming from a bedroom window of her house on the corner of Dublin and Keith Sts.
Whanganui Fire Service principal officer Bernie Rush said the family was "very, very lucky" in several ways, and that the mother who rescued her children, aged 2 and 4, was a "very brave lady".
Mr Rush said yesterday the woman was still distraught at how close they were to a tragedy.
The 8.30pm fire started in a bedroom.
It is suspected the children may have started the fire while playing with matches.
The woman ran into the bedroom and rescued the children, who were under a bed.
She and her children were taken by St John Ambulance to Wanganui Hospital, where they were admitted overnight for smoke inhalation.
Mr Rush said the bed was burning, and because it was under a window, the heat from the fire broke the window and the fire vented out through the hole.
Had the window not broken, the room would have filled with toxic smoke.
When two fire trucks arrived, the house was well alight and anything not burnt would have been seriously damaged by smoke.
"We cannot reinforce enough the importance of keeping matches and lighters away from children, and to install smoke alarms in sleeping areas and one in the hallway," Mr Rush said.
Investigations into the fire were continuing yesterday. The mother and her two children were staying with family in Wanganui.