Quigley is Evergreen Meadows’ new best friend.
The 4-year-old soft-coated Wheaten terrier saved the subdivision along Highway 73 from a wildfire on March 18. He was honored Monday night by Evergreen firefighters for his keen sense of smell and perseverance in getting his owner to walk across the backyard and find flames in a pile of dry pine needles on a neighbor’s property. The fire ignited after ashes that weren’t completely cooled had been thrown out, and the wind re-ignited them.
Quigley received a standing ovation from firefighters, a junior firefighter hat and a badge. For his part, Quigley was much more interested in treats from his owners, P.J. and Donna Lilly, who have been Evergreen residents for 12 years.
“You know, he’s my little guy,” P.J. Lilly said of Quigley, who was rescued from a puppy mill at the age of 4 months. “He’s the real hero.”
“We are thankful (P.J. Lilly) called us,” said Stacee Montague, a spokeswoman for Evergreen Fire/Rescue. “It could have gone bad if Quigley had not been agitated by (the fire). I’ll go out on a limb here: (Quigley) saved the neighborhood.”
Montague reminds residents to be alert and report any smoke they see to the fire department.
“If you see smoke, smell smoke, call us,” she said. “It’s a tinderbox out there.”
She also reminded residents not to empty ashes outside. She suggested mixing them with water in a fireproof bucket to make sure there are no hot embers.
The story unfolds
Quigley and his sisters, Darby, 13, and Cassie, 1, also Wheaten terriers, had come home from agility practice with the Lillys about 8 p.m. March 18. They went outside one last time before bedtime.
But Quigley kept going to the door and asking to go back outside. Eventually, P.J. relented. Quigley ran to the back of the property, all the while turning around as if wanting P.J. to follow him. P.J. reached the back of his property, looked up and saw flames.
He put Quigley back in the house, grabbed a shovel and threw snow on the fire. He knocked on his neighbor’s door on Damascus Trail, but no one was home.
P.J. threw more snow on the area and called 911. Evergreen Fire/Rescue responded and saturated the area with 300 gallons of water.
“If it wasn’t for Quigley,” P.J. said, “and if he hadn’t been such a pain in the butt, who knows what would have happened?”
“I’m glad Quigley was on duty that day,” Montague said. “Maybe he was a firefighter in a former life.”