Things We Never Would Have Suspected – The Canine Edition.

Fidos-Bowl---ROH Imagine your dog (or cat, we suppose) came running up to you in your living room like Lassie and started barking.

“What’s that you say, girl?


“The house is on fire?”

[Terry and Shay Weisbrich], who are retired, suspect they might have lost the house on a notably hot, dry and breezy May Day had they not been at home when their dog, Toby, a flat-coated retriever, began to bark excitedly.

“This dog does not bark,” Terry Weisbrich said.

His wife walked about to investigate what Toby was worked up about. Through a glass door at the rear of the house she noticed what she first thought was steam but quickly realized was smoke.

She shouted to her husband, “We’ve got a fire!”

The Weisbrichs called 911 and the Bennett Valley Fire Department responded to a extinguish the small fire that started on the couple’s cedar siding. No one was harmed and the house was safe, but the question remained “what started the fire?”

A flabbergasted Bennett Valley Fire Department engineer, Rene Torres, said he and his colleagues had no idea what had charred a small area of the cedar siding on the house off of Pressley and Sonoma Mountain roads — until he noticed an empty chrome bowl on the deck.

Terry Weisbrich said he’d kicked it aside as he rushed to aim a fire extinguisher on the piece of siding that began smoldering sometime before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Firefighter Torres asked him where the water bowl had been before he moved it. Weisbrich returned the bowl to its original position on the deck.

“It was uncanny,” Torres said. In an instant, he said, “There was a dot of concentrated light right in that exact area” of the charred siding.

Many of us remember using a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun’s light to start a piece of paper on fire, but in this case, a new, chrome bowl for the Weisbrichs’ dog had accomplished the same feat – it had concentrated the sun’s light enough to catch the siding of the house on fire.

We never would have suspected that could happen, but it does.

An Internet check revealed that in Bellevue, Wash., four years ago, homeowners and firefighters suspected that a $200,000-plus fire was started by sunlight focused into a beam as it passed through a dog’s water bowl that was partially filled and suspended by a wire stand on a deck.

A Bellevue firefighter recreated the conditions in an experiment and within seconds, sunlight refracted onto a piece of cedar beneath the bowl caused the wood to begin to smoke.

We guess the best advice is to not put a chrome bowl out in the sun.

This just goes to show that you can learn something new every day.

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