TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — A fire occurred at a home in the Highlands subdivision off University Boulevard on Monday at 6:30 a.m. Firefighters say the family did not hear their smoke alarms, but woke up to hearing their dogs barking.

Larry Clayton and his wife escaped the fire. Clayton lowered his wife down from a second floor window and then lowered himself down. Two of their dogs survived, but their cat and Jack Russell terrier did not.

Clayton says it painful to lose everything, but he is grateful his family is safe.

“Oh I am very grateful, we lost everything but I guess that will sink in later on.  But my wife and I are safe, our two big poodles are safe but we did lose a little Jack Russell terrier and a black cat,” Clayton said.

Clayton is a retired University of Alabama Professor.

“It will slowly sink in that everything I have is gone. My work, my computers, my clothes and everything and pictures. Stuff you can’t replace,” he said.

Gene Holcomb from Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue believes the couple’s space heater might have caused the fire to start.

“You know it’s a good time to remind everyone you need working smoke alarms, especially in extreme weather or anytime of the year really. But we want to make sure everyone has a working smoke alarm and this is a good reminder because they were not alerted by the smoke alarms,” Holcomb.

Clayton and his wife lived in the house for 21 years.