Escape by a whisker: Quick-thinking cat saves house from fire... by opening the window
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:24 PM on 13th December 2010
A clever cat has been hailed a hero after he prevented his owners' home from burning down - by opening a window.
Five-year-old Pepper has learned to open windows and lets himself out every night by hopping on to a kitchen worktop and using his paws to turn the latch.
So when a fire broke while his owners were Christmas shopping, the quick-thinking puss leapt into action and opened the window to allow the acrid smoke to escape.
Fur alarm: Pepper, who has learned to open windows and lets himself out (pictured above), alerted neighbours that his owners' house was burning because they could see smoke billowing out
The billowing cloud of ash alerted neighbours and firefighters rushed to the scene and extinguished the blaze before it spread to the rest of the house.
Owner Sharon White, of Totnes, Devon said: 'He first did it (opened the window) at a dinner party and everyone was applauding him, I think it spurred him on.
'He can climb back in through the window by jumping diagonally on to the ledge as well so he really does come and go as he pleases.
'Pepper is still a bit spooked by the ordeal but is still managing to eat plenty of food.' Sharon and husband Phil, a radiologist at Torbay Hospital, Devon, were handed Pepper over four years ago after a neighbour could no longer look after it.
Grateful: Homeowners Sharon and Phil White with their treasured pet Pepper
Pepper developed a 'fierce independent streak' and would often leave the house for days on end.
But over the last few months, he has become increasingly nomadic and has learnt to let himself out through the downstairs window by turning the metal lever 90 degrees with his paws.
The dramatic fire started at 4pm on Saturday after the couple nipped to the shops and left their microwave on a ten minute timer, which then caught fire.
Sharon, who owns a publishing consultancy, said: 'We put something in the microwave for ten minutes and then popped out to do our Christmas shopping in the local town.
'I discovered on the way that I had left my purse at home but decided not to turn around.
'It was my sister-in-law who lives next door that rang us about two hours into our trip and said you had better get home as there is quite a lot of smoke coming out of your house and the fire brigade are here.
'We are thankful our neighbours did not just dismiss the smoke as a bonfire.'
Firefighters rushed to their £350,000 house and extinguished the flames before they could spread and the kitchen suffered only smoke damage.
Phil added: 'Pepper managed to get out and smoke must have been pouring out the window which alerted the neighbours.
'There is some damage to the kitchen but it was isolated so nothing compared to what it could have been.
''He's got a real mind of his own and is usually a bit of a pain. But on this occasion we're grateful as without him, and our neighbours, the fire could have been so much worse.'
Stefan Belsten, of Devon and Somerset fire service, said: 'If Pepper hadn't opened the window the fire would have developed quite a lot.'
Source: Cat prevents house fire... By opening the window | Mail Online
Also, Daily Mail writer (and Phil) has no concept of how fire works.