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Man injured saving puppies from burning building

By Staff | Apr 11, 2009

A fire at a Cape Coral business left one man injured as he rushed to save the lives of several pitbull pups which were housed in the building early Friday morning.
The fire, which engulfed Robert Volk II’s 2004 Dodge Durango and spread to the roof of Volk Electric, Inc., caused about $175,000 in damages and destroyed approximately 25 percent of the building at about 6:04 a.m., according to city spokesperson Connie Barron.
The business is located at 2215 N.E. 10th Terrace. There are no adjacent businesses or homes, and the fire did not cause any additional damage to the area.
Volk II, the son of owner Robert Volk, burned his arm trying to save a mother pitbull and seven puppies. He was taken to the Cape Coral Hospital to be treated for his injuries.
Between Volk II and firefighters, the animals were rescued unharmed.
“(Volk II) got second- and third-degree burns on his arm,” Volk said of his son. “When he came out of the building it was so hot that his flesh just drooped off.”
Volk II said he had stayed in his father’s business the night before because his home was recently foreclosed upon, and woke to find his truck and the business in flames.
After his attempts to stifle the blaze with buckets of water failed, Volk II saved the puppies and was burned in the process.
“It was burning real bad when I came out with the dogs,” he said. “The firefighters said the flames were about 1,500 to 1,600 degrees. It melted my skin.”
Volk II didn’t feel the pain from his injuries at first, but couldn’t go back in to save the puppies’ mother because the flames had reached the entrance to the business, he said.
Firefighters later rescued the dog.
Though the State Fire Marshal’s Office would not say whether they considered the fire suspicious Friday, Volk and his son seemed assured the incident was caused by arson.
“Apparently somebody had lit the car on fire and that caught the building on fire,” he said.
Volk II’s Durango had also been burglarized prior to the fire, Volk said.
Volk II said he and his father had evidence supporting that the incident was caused by arson.
“We got whoever did it on camera,” he said of the business’s video surveillance system. “I don’t know the guy personally, but it was a younger guy.”
As for where Volk II would stay now that his belongings, vehicle and part of his father’s business were destroyed, he said he’d likely stay with his girlfriend or family while he sorted out the incident with his insurance.
Volk Electric, Inc. has been housed at its current location for about two years, though the company has been in business in the Cape for nearly 15 years.
Volk said he has no plans to move the business because of the fire.
“Fortunately this side of my shop that my business works out of is still intact,” he said. “We’re probably going to have to take off about five or six trusses and reroof that part of it and just redrywall it.”
The fire is still under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office, officials said Friday.