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Family Dog, Off-Duty Firefighter Rescue Family From Staten Island Blaze

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Staten Island family is giving a big thanks today to the heroes who saved their loved ones from a fire.

Those heroes just happen to include the family dog and an off-duty firefighter.

Kristi Gregotowicz is thankful for the member of New York's bravest who raced into her burning home.

"He is a hero, he is a hero," she tells CBS2's Jessica Borg.

Today, her home in the West Brighton section of Staten Island is boarded up.

"Everything was lost," she said. "They have to gut the whole upstairs."

Luckily for her, fireman Robbie Mitchell from Rescue 5 helped make sure her in-laws made it out safely.

Mitchell saw the smoke from his car before crews arrived at the scene last Monday. He ran inside without any firefighting gear on him.

"I took a deep breath, I kept my shoulder to the wall and kept my face down and did a typical search," he said.

He said he was searching for anyone who was unconscious. Kristi's in-laws, who live downstairs, were panic-stricken as she and her husband weren't home at the time, and their teenage daughter was at school.

When the flames started, the family dog began scratching at the top window on the second floor of the home, eventually breaking it and letting smoke out. A woman walking by on the sidewalk saw the smoke and called 911.

Kristi says Roxie, her family's labrador mix, was somehow jumping on the glass. Usually relaxed, she sprung to action as soon as she sensed danger.

Mitchell is recovering from smoke inhalation, but tells CBS2 he'll be back on the job later this week. The family is staying at a hotel for the time being and says they're grateful that the community has been donating food and clothes.

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