SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities say a Northern California firefighter was mauled in the face by a pit bull after helping extinguish a house fire.

The East Bay Times reports Alameda County Fire Battalion Chief John Whiting received “extremely severe facial damage” in the attack Saturday in San Leandro.

Division Chief Alan Evans says Whiting required extensive reconstructive surgery.

Fire officials say firefighters rescued a 15-year-old girl and 18 dogs from the two-story house. Two other dogs in the basement died.

One of the rescued dogs — a male pit bull — lunged at Whiting while he was questioning the girl. Evans says she was holding the dog’s leash but was unable to restrain him.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The dogs were turned over to animal control.

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