PLEASANT RIDGE PLANTATION — Herbert Hingley, a retired builder, was asleep at his home early Wednesday morning when he heard his dog Babe barking.

Babe, a Brittany spaniel who is less than a year old, jumped on her owner and started pawing at his face to get him out of bed. When he finally woke up, 73-year-old Hingley realized his house was on fire and was filling with smoke.

“She’s a young dog, but she’s smart,” Hingley said. “She came in whacking me with her paws like she does when she wants to go out. She knew there was something wrong, so she came over to get me.”

The fire at 205 Rowe Pond Road, which Hingley reported from a neighbor’s house around 2:30 a.m., destroyed the house that he remodeled himself about 10 years ago and many of his belongings inside. But Hingley and Babe, as well as nine other hunting dogs that Hingley keeps in a kennel outside, were unharmed.

Fire Chief David Robinson said that it was fortunate that the dog was able to wake Hingley up, because he is hard of hearing and wouldn’t hear the smoke detectors going off.

“I wouldn’t want to say positively that he wouldn’t have made it out, but it was definitely a big assistance in him getting out alive and unhurt,” Robinson said.


Firefighters from Pleasant Ridge Plantation and Bingham were at the scene for nearly five hours as they struggled to overcome temperatures that approached 10 below zero and the difficulty getting water to the remote location, Bingham Fire Chief Scott Laweryson said.

“A lot of the rural areas around here have no hydrant systems and everything is frozen over, so it’s hard to get water,” Laweryson said. “It was a battle just to keep things from freezing, let alone keep water flowing. The crews did a really good job.”

Before Wednesday, Pleasant Ridge Plantation, which is home to about 84 people, had not had a report of a structure fire since 2007, Davidson said. By 11 a.m., flames were still showing and heavy smoke was coming from the site of the house.

The cause is unknown, but the fire is believed to have originated near a wood stove, Lawyerson said. Hingley said he has insurance and that he will be staying at the nearby Pine Grove Lodge, a cabin rental and guide service where he volunteers with the Wounded Warrior Project. He also has relatives from Rhode Island coming to help him.

“I lost everything,” Hingley said. “Everything’s gone.”

A passionate outdoorsman, Hingley lost a dozen hunting guns, a moose he shot last year, and thousands of hand-tied flies for fishing. His hunting dogs stay in a kennel attached to the garage, which is separate from the house and wasn’t damaged.


“I don’t have anything left, but you can’t replace your life, and it was close,” Hingley said, adding that he was grateful for Babe. “I can’t go nowhere without her or she gets mad. It’s like a wife.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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