Three people rescued, 34 cats dead in New Bedford fire
Jackson Cote, masslive.com
In what amounted to what officials deemed a “domesticated animal mass casualty incident,” 34 cats were killed and three people hospitalized after a fire in Massachusetts over the weekend.
The blaze broke out around 9:40 a.m. Sunday at a two-family home at 303 County St. in New Bedford, according to a Facebook post from the city’s fire department. When first responders arrived at the house, they saw a heavy fire on the first floor of the wood-frame building.
Three people were trapped on the second and third floors of the house. Firefighters positioned two ladders in the rear of the building to rescue them, the department said.
A man was trapped in a third-floor bedroom and jumped onto the ladder as soon as it was placed below the window. New Bedford Firefighter Paul Medeiros was able to hold onto the man until another firefighter helped him down the ladder, according to the department.
Two women were carried down ladders from the second-floor apartment. They were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, while the man was taken to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. All three individuals are in stable condition, authorities said.
First responders also located and removed 60 cats from the home. Twenty-six of them were treated and resuscitated by New Bedford EMS paramedics, Animal Control officers, Police Department officers and available firefighters, according to officials.
“The members of these agencies worked seamlessly to provide these animals care in what rapidly evolved [into] a domesticated animal mass casualty incident,” the New Bedford Fire Department said in its post.
Animal control officers took the 26 cats to veterinary emergency clinics in West Bridgewater, Swansea and as far away as West Greenwich, Rhode Island. All of them needed hyperbaric treatment and oxygen overnight, according to the department.
Thirty-four cats died in the fire. EMS personnel and firefighters were equipped with animal rescue masks. However, their supply ran out Sunday, the department noted.
The blaze was brought under control in less than hour. The cause of the fire is being investigated by the department’s Fire Investigation Unit and the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Investigators are determining if the home had working smoke detectors
The department said it’s proud of District Fire Chief Michael Dandurand and the members of Engine Co. 6 and Ladder Co. 3 “for their skill and quick actions in rescuing the three victims.”
The Providence Canteen provided support and rehabilitation services to a large number of first responders during the blaze as well, according to the department.
“We appreciate and thank you for your efforts,” the department said.
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