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'She did her job': Dog credited for saving Clear Lake couple from fire

CLEAR LAKE | If it weren't for a 14-year-old dog, Doug Wilson and Lisa Wood might not have gotten out of their basement alive.

Wilson and Wood, both of Clear Lake, were sleeping this Saturday in the basement at 908 Seventh Ave. N. when they started to hear barking from their dog, Princess.

It was about 4 a.m. when Wilson heard that barking, and discovered a fire had started in electrical wires behind a wall right above them, near the top of the staircase. Wood said Princess probably saved their lives.

"She was whining to him," Wood, 52, said. "And then she's looking toward the fire, and kept looking and started barking."

Wilson said that the fire, if it hadn't been contained, probably would have traveled down the staircase, trapping him and Wood. After Princess alerted him about it, he plugged the hole in the wall near where it started, and alerted everyone in the house to call the fire department and evacuate.

"Me and her probably wouldn't have gotten of the basement," Wilson, 56, said.

The fire did cause extensive damage to various areas of the first floor of the house, he added. The Clear Lake Fire Department, Clear Lake Police Department and Ventura Fire Department all responded, and officials estimated the fire caused more than $25,000 in damage.

Clear Lake Police officers were first to get to the building, and saw heavy smoke along the roofline, according to a press release from the Clear Lake Fire Department. When the CLFD arrived, firefighters entered through the back door and found the fire in the entry way wall and attic.

They quickly extinguished the blaze, and spent about 90 minutes at the house, along with other first responders.

Wood said she and Wilson had been staying in the basement of the property, owned by Gerald Arnold, her father.

Wilson added that they are staying at a friend's house right now, and waiting to see how much their fire insurance will cover. 

"She's brilliant," Wood said. "She's a really fun dog ... and I would have never woke up, because I've been taking NyQuil pills to sleep."

"She's a real smart dog," Wilson added. "She's a good one ... she did her job."

New Mason City mayor to give state-of-the-city message Tuesday

MASON CITY | Newly-elected Mayor Bill Schickel will give his "state of the city" message at the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

It is not a new setting for Schickel, who has been elected mayor four times and most recently has been an at-large member of the City Council.

Schickel said the theme of his message will be "A New Beginning for Mason City."

Mayoral state-of-the-city messages are a long-standing Mason City annual tradition in which the mayor typically evaluates the city's strengths and weaknesses and outlines goals for the future.

"As always, the public is invited," Schickel said. "It will be a great time to meet the newly-elected council members."

The new council members are Tom Thoma, at-large; Will Symonds, Second Ward; and John Jaszewski, Fourth Ward.

In a Globe Gazette interview shortly after his election, Schickel said his top goal would be to guide the success of the River City Renaissance project.

In his last act as a councilman Thursday night, he was part of the unanimous council vote approving G8 Development as the developer of a downtown hotel -- a key component in the Renaissance project.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Mason City Room of the public library.

Schickel, who is general manager if KCMR radio, announced Friday he will be holding regular office hours at City Hall from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Fridays, beginning Jan. 5.