By Samantha Foster
Topeka Capital Journal – October 24, 2014
Topeka firefighters rescued and revived several pets from a residential fire Friday afternoon in the Kenwood neighborhood.
Fire crews were called on a report of a structure fire about 3:50 p.m. at 315 S.W. Quinton, just south of Meadows Elementary.
Battalion chief Chris Cervantes said at the scene that when crews arrived, they saw smoke coming from the front door. An adult man who was the home’s only occupant at the time of the fire had exited the house, Cervantes said, but had attempted to re-enter multiple times to save his family’s pets.
When firefighters entered the residence, they located the dogs and cats and began carrying them outside to safety.
“I was watching, and they just kept bringing one after another after another,” Cervantes said.
Firefighters worked to revive the animals with oxygen masks, and all but two cats survived, he said. Cervantes wasn’t sure exactly how many pets were rescued, but a Capital-Journal reporter counted at least five dogs and four cats.
“Our crews did an excellent job as far as using the animal oxygen masks,” Cervantes said. “When I first saw (the animals), I didn’t see any of them moving.”
Three of the small dogs that revived most quickly were carried down the street, where someone had offered to keep them in a yard. An Animal Control officer arrived later and took custody of two dogs and two cats. That officer also disposed of the bodies of two cats that had died from the smoke.
Cervantes said the home’s occupant had suffered minor smoke inhalation and was checked by American Medical Response personnel at the scene.
The man said he was asleep when the fire started, Cervantes said, and thought the smoke detector may have woken him.
“He didn’t know if it was that or just a sixth sense,” he said. “He woke up and came out of the house, then made his multiple attempts to go in, locate his animals and bring them out.”
The cause of the blaze hadn’t been determined as of 5 p.m., but Cervantes said firefighters had located it in the home’s basement. Basement fires are difficult to find, he said, especially when a house is filled with smoke so firefighters can’t see to find the stairs.
Cervantes said the animals the firefighters were able to revive likely would need some further treatment. However, he said, their chances for survival increased greatly because crews were able to put the oxygen masks on the animals right away.
“I think that’s probably what made survival chances for these animals significantly greater than if we didn’t have them,” he said. “It would’ve been a whole different ballgame.”
No damage estimate was initially available. Fire investigators were waiting for the house to be ventilated and carbon monoxide levels to decrease before entering to survey the damage and search for the fire’s cause.
Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster