14 cats dead, 2 firefighters transported in fire

A small dog is rescued. (Source: Shelby County Fire Department)
A small dog is rescued. (Source: Shelby County Fire Department)

By Nick Kenney - bio | email

LAKELAND, TN (WMC-TV) - A Tuesday morning house fire killed 14 cats and caused two firefighters to be transported to a hospital.

Shelby County Fire Department spokesman Brent Perkins said the blaze was reported in the Lakeland neighborhood around 10 a.m.

"A mailman called this fire in," Perkins said.  "He was in the area making his deliveries when he noted smoke pushing from the roof. He called 911 and began beating on the door."

As firefighters arrived at the scene, they were greeted by frantic neighbors concerned about the animals inside the house.

"I was yelling at all of them," neighbor Carey Hoskins said. "I said, 'They have animals! They have animals!'"

Witnesses said homeowners are well known for taking in stray cats, having them spayed or neutered, and then keeping them in the house as pets.

"There were 19 total," Perkins said.

Firefighters found 14 cats dead, but neighbors said it could have been worse.

"They pulled out the first cat. The EMT's - they were just wonderful. They treated it as if it was just like another human being," Hoskins said.

Paramedics rescued and resuscitated five other cats and one dog using brand new animal ventilators, now standard in each truck.

"The bottom line is, this is a good tool, a good device, and we're awful glad to have them," Perkins said.

Investigators say the homeowners are responsible pet owners, and there was no sign of animal cruelty.

"I just hate to see this because this is what these people do," Hoskins said.

The two firefighters had heat exhaustion, but Perkins says they will be fine.

The two residents weren't at home during the fire. The cause isn't known.

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