ALIQUIPPA (KDKA) — Six people were forced from their homes after their Beaver County apartment complex caught on fire Thursday evening.

The flames broke out around 5:30 p.m. in the 400-block of Franklin Street in the downtown area of Aliquippa.

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Aliquippa’s fire chief says the three-alarm fire produced a lot of smoke. The flames were embedded deep inside the building.

It was a tough one for some 10 companies to knock down because of some unique challenges like renovations that were done years ago without a permit.

“Dropped ceilings, added floors, and it was an old photography studio years ago and the building’s been honeycombed,” said Chief Dave Foringer, of the Aliquippa Fire Department.

Even though Johnny Drouin walked away with only the shirt off his back and his little service dog, Peanut, he says he’s just lucky to be alive. He says it was Peanut who was the hero.

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“Peanut smelled the smoke first. She started licking me on the head, and I knew something was wrong,” said Drouin. “She woke me up and there was smoke all over the place, so I got everyone up and we ran outside.”

No one was injured.

The Red Cross will put the displaced residents up for the night.

The building is a total loss, and the businesses on each side both have water damage.

The fire marshal has yet to determine what caused the blaze.

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