(SUN/Robert Mills)

DRACUT -- Dracut firefighers -- working in heat that neared 100 degrees and which led to a heat advisory from the National Weather Service -- still managed to quickly save an Aiken Avenue home from a 3-alarm fire and save four pets Wednesday afternoon.

One Dracut firefighter was taken to Lowell General Hospital/Saints Campus, with heat exhaustion after he collapsed in the back yard of the home at 462 Aiken Ave., about 5 p.m. Deputy Chief Mike Rawls said that firefighter is expected to be okay.

Rawls had to limit the amount of time firefighters spent inside the home due to high heat and humidity that led the National Weather Service to warn even non-firefighters to take precautions to avoid heat-related illness.

"They did an awesome job," Rawls said after the fire was under control.

It was the hot conditions and limited time firefighters could spend inside that led Rawls to call a third-alarm.

Rawls said the fire spread quickly up the back of the home, after starting somewhere outside shortly after 4:30 p.m.

Latticework on the home's back porches helped the fire spread from the basement and first floor, where it was burning when Rawls arrived from Dracut's central fire station about a block away.

The first fire engine arrived barely a minute later, and the flames had already spread to the second floor and attic, he said.

Dracut firefighters quickly got a hose line extended to the rear of the home to get water on the exterior fire while others rushed inside the home to stop the flames from spreading there.


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Rawls said no one was home at the time of the blaze. It was not immediately clear how many people live in the home.

Rawls said firefighters rescued three dogs and a cat from the flames.

Lowell Firefighters also responded with a first-alarm since the fire was near the town line, and firefighters from Lowell and Methuen helped Dracut battle the flames as mutual aid. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Follow Robert Mills at Twitter.com/Robert_Mills