DARNESTOWN, Md. — A pioneering regional dog rescue organizer died in a house fire Sunday night in Darnestown, Maryland. Judy Marion, 72, died at the hospital after being rescued from her home, according to Montgomery County police.
Heroic neighbors tried to save her, pulling her and six dogs from the burning house. Marion had dedicated her life to rescuing Rottweiller dogs, according to her friends.
“She rescued thousands of rottweilers and had a heart the size of Maryland,” Howard County dog trainer Karen Decker said.
According to rescuers, the fire was reported by a passerby at about 7:15 p.m. Sunday. Authorities said neighbors attempted to rescue her by forming a bucket brigade.
One of Marion's neighbors, Neftali Martinez, told WUSA9 through an interpreter that he and other neighbors used the buckets of water in a vain attempt to get into the main level of the house where Marion and two dead dogs were eventually found. Martinez said flames raging from windows made it impossible to get inside.
Rescuers said "excessive storage” and clutter in the home made their search difficult, and the house did not have a functioning fire alarm.
Four other dogs found in steel cages in the basement of the home survived, according to Montgomery County Animal Services officers. The suriving dogs are OK and being cared for by a veterinarian at the county's animal shelter, authorities said.
According to friends, Marion had operated NoVa Rottweiler Rescue League Incorporated for more than 30 years, working to save dogs from euthanization by finding them alternative homes when owners could not meet the demands of taking care of them.
Aside from the dogs, Marion lived alone according to her neighbors.
Authorities have blamed the fire on an electrical fault.