Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Stack of Problems

The Express, October 12, 2004
By: John Chapman

A TEAM of rescue workers struggled over two days to save a schoolboy's pet dog, trapped inside a huge bonfire pile.

Mylo, a Jack Russell terrier, out walking with his owner, 10year-old George Smith, suddenly chased a rabbit - and vanished into the 20ft-high stack.

George could hear two-year-old Mylo whimpering, but could not see him. Eventually, George ran home to his father - also called George - in Swanmore, Hants.

Mr Smith, 30, a tree surgeon, said: "I thought it would only be a couple of feet of wood. I never thought the pile would be so big.

It was the size of a house. So we dialled 999." By chance, eight members of Hampshire's urban search and rescue team, specially trained for worldwide rescue operations , including earthquakes, were at the county fire and rescue service's headquarters in nearby Eastleigh.

The team, with five firefighters, rushed to the scene and worked to free the dog. Schoolboy George sat by the woodpile, calling out to Mylo, as the firefighters used thermal-imaging cameras to find him deep inside the bonfire.

For three hours, there was silence. The 13-strong team were about to go home for the night when Mylo suddenly responded.

George Smith senior said: "The chief of the team said they would have to give up if there was no sign by 6 pm. At 5.55 pm, we heard Mylo whimpering.

After working for six hours, the team left, but returned next day and spent another three hours digging a ground-level tunnel.

And at 11am on Sunday - 24 hours after he went missing - Mylo was found trapped between branches, and rescued.

Owner George said: "There were times when I thought he might be dead. I'm really thankful for all the help from the firefighters." Mike Gates of Hampshire fire and rescue said: "Everyone was delighted."

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