At least six cats were rescued after a home in Mission went up in flames over the weekend, but two of the felines are still missing.
On Sunday night just before 7:30 p.m., St. Albert Fire Services responded to a fire near St. Vital Ave. and Marion Cres. The city said in an email that there were no injuries from the blaze. Some 19 firefighters responded and fire services requested mutual aid support, with Spruce Grove and Morinville coming to the rescue.
Dylan Dawson, who rented the basement of the house that went up in flames, came home around 8:30 p.m. to see his home on fire.
Dawson and his girlfriend Alannah Rose had both been gone when the fire broke out but arrived home at the same time and were immediately worried about their four cats. Dawson said two of the cats used their cat door to escape the blaze. The duo, Neo and Gertrude, are still missing and Dawson suspects they are somewhere in the neighbourhood.
Dawson added the two missing cats are mostly black and fluffy. Neo has lots of white on his front and paws while Gertrude is mainly black with a small patch of white on her chest. Dawson asks anyone who sees the cats to call him at 780-243-7215.
The other two cats, Griffin and Artemis, were rescued by firefighters during the event. The homeowner, who also lived at the property, had a mother cat with a new litter that was also rescued by firefighters.
The couple and their two rescued felines are staying at his parents’ house in St. Albert.
“The first day they were dirty. We had to clean them up that night so they weren’t destroying things. They’re doing really well so there are no real signs of damage. They weren’t burnt or anything. They were just wet and dirty,” Dawson said.
Dawson, 23, said he and Rose, 25, lost most of their possessions to either water or smoke damage and estimated around five per cent of their possessions are salvageable.
The couple did not have insurance so they will not be compensated for any of their lost stuff but Dawson said their spirits are not completely crushed as they had been planning to move to Nova Scotia in a couple of months and had been planning on minimizing their possessions.
Dawson said after talking to firefighters at the scene, he believes the fire started in a fireplace chimney.
“The chimney caught fire somewhere on the second floor,” Dawson said.
The City of St. Albert said early Tuesday morning the fire was still under investigation.
Eyewitness Tristen Stoneman said she heard from her son just after the fire broke out who said the flames were high in the Mission area and there was an orange and yellow glow radiating out of the neighbourhood from the flames.
Stoneman said as the firefighters poured water on the blaze the streets began to flood with ankle deep water that turned quickly to ice.
“The water was just pouring out of the windows. It was just like a river,” Stoneman said.
Once the home was safe to enter, the cats began to come out of the home.
“I ended up in the fire truck with these cats trying to warm them up and we're trying to feed them little bits of milk and stuff like that,” Stoneman said.
Stoneman said a mother cat with four kittens, belonging to the homeowner, were pulled out of the house. Stoneman took off her jacket and scarf to help warm them up and firefighters used heat packs to try to keep the mother cat and her babies warm.
An additional cat was pulled out of the building that belonged to the renters and put inside the fire truck. Stoneman climbed back into the truck to try to calm the cat down and warm it up.
“It was just shivering like crazy for a good hour and I just tried to hold it down and give it my warmth,” Stoneman said.
Finally firefighters plucked another adult cat, belonging to the renters, from the rafters of the burned-out building and put it in another truck to keep warm. Stoneman stuck around until around 1:30 a.m. when she finally returned home.
Looking at the home the next day, Stoneman said one half had been engulfed in flames and burned out and the other half of the long rectangular house was covered in icicles.
Two fires in February
The fire in Mission was at least the second fire in just over a week in the city.
On Feb. 8 just after 3:07 p.m. a fire broke out at a home near Laird Dr. and Laval Pl. in Lacombe Park.
The city estimates the damage for the fire to be at $100,000 and the damage was limited to the upper floor and attic. The fire originated from a bathroom ceiling fan.
No injuries were reported in the fire and 19 firefighters responded to put the blaze out.
This is the second fire this winter that was sparked by a bathroom ceiling fan. The first was on Dec. 9 in Erin Ridge and there were no injuries reported in the fire.
In an emailed statement, spokesperson Marci Ng said St. Albert Fire Services reminds all residents that proper maintenance of electrical appliances and equipment is very important. If something is not working properly, repair or replace it, using a qualified electrician if necessary.