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Good Samaritan saves family dog from burning car

A Candler, N.C. family had a frightening morning when their car caught fire with their dog trapped inside. (WLOS)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) - A Candler family had a frightening morning when their car caught fire with their dog trapped inside.

It all happened as they ate breakfast at an IHOP.

Debbie Hilton says all of a sudden they realized their Ford Explorer, parked outside, was going up in flames.

"We heard there was a green Ford Explorer smoking in the parking lot and we ran out here," Hilton said.

Hilton said her biggest concern wasn't the car itself, but the family dog, Abby, who was stuck inside.

"We ran out to the parking lot. We had brought our dog with us this morning, and she was in the truck. Someone had already broken the window out and gotten the dog out," Hilton said.

Fortunately, Chad Reiginter was in town for Christmas and happened to see the smoke, and the pup, and knew exactly what to do.

"We walk out here and his car was on fire, and I remembered seeing the dog in there. So, my first instinct was to grab my pocket knife and start smashing windows, and I tried to reach the dog through the first window and he wouldn't come out. So, I just started smashing windows, and all of a sudden he jumped out the back and ran off," Reiginter said.

Reiginter is a dog lover himself and said he wasn't worried about the dangerous scene, just the dog.

"It crossed my mind as I'm running around smashing windows, please don't blow up yet. I was hoping it wouldn't. Thank God it didn't, so we made it all out all right. We are all OK," Reiginter said.

The Hiltons now believe wiring caught fire, sparking the blaze.

They are now just grateful that a stranger stepped in, and Abby is OK.

"We could care less about the car. Yeah, we love our dog," Hilton said. "The truck was just in flames, so we are grateful for the folks who got our dog out of the car."

"Turned out good though, we got a good outcome, so everybody is alright, the animal is alright. So, I'm happy, " Reiginter said.

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