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‘Hero’ Saved in Newport

Justin Rollins’ Dog Resuscitated After Fire

Newport — A dog named Hero who made national headlines in 2007 when she was united with the family of a fallen soldier was rescued from a Newport house fire Tuesday evening and is expected to make a full recovery.

Around 6:30 p.m., the Newport Fire Department and several surrounding departments responded to the home of Skip and Rhonda Rollins to find smoke and flames coming from the house on Willow Road. The parents of late Army Spc. Justin Rollins, who was photographed with Hero the night before Rollins was killed in Iraq, weren’t home at the time of the fire.

Newport firefighters rushed inside the two story home and included among the four animals they rescued from the two-alarm fire — two dogs and two cats — was Hero, the puppy who was brought to New Hampshire from Iraq after Justin Rollins was killed in a 2007 roadside bombing.

When firefighters found Hero inside the home Tuesday night, she was not breathing, a news release stated. Newport Fire and EMS members immediately started giving the dog oxygen and cooled her down, while notifying the Claremont Animal Hospital of an incoming emergency.

A Newport ambulance then transported Hero, whose condition began to improve on the ride to Claremont.

At the hospital, her condition was assessed and she is expected to make a full recovery, the release stated.

The Rollins’ family pushed to adopt Hero after seeing photos of Justin Rollins nuzzling the mixed-breed puppy in Samarra, Iraq. With the help of the 82nd Airborne division, Justin Rollins’ girlfriend Brittney Murray and Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., the litter of puppies was tracked down in Iraq and Hero was rerouted to the Granite State.

“It was the last remaining thing that made Justin happy more or less,” Newport Fire Lt. Corey Conroy said Tuesday night. “He loved the dog.”

Newport Firefighter/EMT William Hardy Jr. said the fire was believed to have started in the wall behind the wood stove in the basement of the 5 Willow Road home.

“We’re not sure if it was a chimney fire that heated up the wall or if it was a crack in the chimney,” Hardy said, noting there are multiple possibilities.

He said the fire damage was contained to the living room on the main floor and the basement around the woodstove.

Smoke damage was present throughout the home, which Hardy deemed uninhabitable.

“The first fire officer was there within a minute of the call and saw smoke coming from one of the sides of the home and saw fire coming from the side as well,” Hardy said.

Hardy said Skip and Rhonda Rollins were offered American Red Cross assistance and “they said they would get back to us if they needed it.”

Justin Rollins’ personal effects were saved from the fire and most of the items were undamaged, the release stated.

Crews declared the fire under control just after 7:30 p.m. Newport received assistance on-site from Claremont, Sunapee and New London .

One of two cats was also given oxygen on the scene and is also expected to make a full recovery.

In 2008 a Newport bridge was named after Justin Rollins, and the Ride for the Fallen motorcycle event, also known as the Rollins Ride, takes place annually to honor Rollins and other fallen soldiers.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.