June 3 (UPI) -- A New York woman's German shepherd is being hailed as a hero by members of a church after he alerted his owner to a late-night fire at the facility.
Kim Lewis said she was awakened Sunday morning at her home in Somers, Westchester County, when her 4-year-old dog, Bear, started barking loudly.
"I was awakened by Bear, he had an alarming bark, it was very unusual," Lewis told News 12. "I opened the blinds and I saw the church on fire."
Lewis called 911 and firefighters from multiple agencies responded to extinguish the flames.
Church officials said the fire caused about $50,000 worth of damage, but the building could have been destroyed if Bear hadn't raised the alarm.
"Bear caught it quick and emergency responders got here quick, and they stopped a devastating disaster," church administrator Lisa Wain told KABC-TV. "Five to 10 more minutes and it was into the attic. It would have hit the electrical and it would have taken the whole building out."
The church, which is preparing to celebrate its 50th anniversary in July, paid tribute to Bear in a Facebook post that dubbed him "the best dog in the world."
Firefighters said the blaze appears to have been accidental and was caused by an electrical problem.