A family is without its home, and three dogs are dead after a fire in Wasilla Saturday night.

Joshua Cropper of Wasilla says he and his friend Tom Hanson were headed home just after 9 p.m., when they spotted black smoke in a neighborhood near Sleepy Hollow Golf Course.

"I figured it was just like a stump fire burning or something, but we checked it out anyway and it ended up being the beginning of a house fire," Cropper said. 

Cropper said a family of three was standing outside with one of the family's four dogs when he and Hanson arrived at the home.

"They had a garden hose and were spraying their front door area. I mean, it was a losing battle," Cropper said, adding that he and Hanson set their sights on saving the three dogs left inside. 

User: HPR Working Dogs To: link


"We were trying to get upstairs to save the dogs, but we didn’t know the layout of the house and we couldn’t breathe, so we kept running down the stairs, yelling down the window, like, 'You don’t know where they’re at?' And they just kept yelling, 'Get out, get out,'" Cropper said. "That was my only intention, was to save the dogs. But once we couldn’t find them, we just tried to save anything we could because it was pretty evident that it was going to be a total loss."

Cropper says he and Hanson barricaded themselves in a back bedroom, throwing as much as they could out of a window before the flames found them. 

"We just kept throwing out the window, until there was like flames coming in the door and then we bailed," Cropper said, adding that he was in the house for somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes, and continued waiting for the fire department to arrive, as the house burned. 

Cropper says the fire department first thought the house was out of the fire service area, which caused further delay. 

A spokesperson for the Red Cross confirmed Sunday that the organization did respond to help the family Saturday.

Cropper says he suffered from smoke inhalation following the event but didn't go to the hospital.

"It was white smoke, but it was so thick that we couldn’t see. It was like being in a, it reminded me of being in Iraq, like being in a sandstorm where you can’t even see like your hand in front of your face," Cropper, a Marine veteran who deployed to Iraq in 2005, said of the scene. 

Cropper currently owns a Wasilla-based dog training company called HPR Working Dogs, which is seeking donations for the family. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved.