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INDIANAPOLIS – A 2-year-old male pit bull named Ace was being hailed as a hero Wednesday afternoon after waking his deaf owner during a devastating house fire.

At 1:11 p.m., Indianapolis firefighters were called to fight a fire at a home in the 6400 block of Perry Pines Court, on the city's southeast side, officials said. Upon their arrival, flames were shooting from the garage.

Officials said Nick Lamb, 13, who is deaf, was sleeping in the house at the time. Ace was able to alert Nick and wake him by licking his face.

"He was thankful that Ace entered his room and licked his face until he woke up," Indianapolis Fire Department Capt. Rita Reith said in a news release. "The boy quickly covered his nose and mouth with his T-shirt and exited the rear of the house."

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Nick said he was taught at school about covering his face and finding the nearest exit. Without his shoes but with Ace by his side, he darted out the back door before calling his mother and 911.

"I couldn't hear anything because I had my cochlear implants off. ... My dog Ace smelled it," Nick said. "I just wanted to get out."

The fire-blackened home had $175,000 in damage. But Ace and Nick made it out safely. No one else was home when the fire started.

Lindsay Bernard, Nick's mother, said she rushed home from work after getting a call about the fire.

"I went into a little bit of a panic," she said.

Reith added that the family's black cat, named Pixie, was located by a firefighter inside the home and appears to be OK.

Bernard said Pixie inhaled a bit of smoke and would be spending the night at the vet.

"(Nick) told firefighters that this was the first summer he was old enough to stay home alone and was excited to have reached that milestone," Reith said. "He had just returned from summer camp on Sunday."

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Reith said. The homeowners believe that it was electrical and originated in the garage.

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