ORLANDO, Fla. – More than a dozen cats were killed Wednesday night when a fire broke out at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, officials clarified Thursday afternoon.
Shelter officials said 13 cats died in the fire, which was reported at 10:21 p.m. on Conroy Road near the Mall at Millenia. Four cats are still missing.
Orange County Fire Rescue said the facility was “50% involved” when firefighters arrived.
Twenty-four cats and 25 dogs were rescued from the fire, officials said.
“If you run a shelter, this is literally your worst nightmare, to see your building on fire and to know that there are animals in there that you’re in charge to care for, and you can’t go in,” Steve Bardy, executive director of Pet Alliance said.
Bardy said it appears the fire started in the front of the building, but the cause of the blaze is under investigation.
“This is just horrible, " Bardy said.
Worker Candyce Hatch broke down talking about the cats she was able to help rescue here at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.
“Honestly, it’s the best I’ve felt since last night,” Hatch said. “I’m just happy for who survived and who made it.”
Orange County sheriff’s office body camera video shows animals being rescued from the burning building.
Jerry Evans works next door at the Orange County Animal Services Building. He saw the flames and reported it to dispatch.
“There was smoke coming out, flames coming from the middle of the building there,” Evans said. “We’re out here to save lives, this is the one thing you don’t want to see happen.”
“We did have a roof collapse in there so making access to all of the animals was kind of difficult,” Batallion Chief Steve Sherrill from Orange County Fire said.
Pet Alliance was scheduled to close its vet clinic on Friday.
Leaders at the shelter said no people were working when the fire happened. Those rescued animals were taken to their Sanford location, 2800 County Home Road, and it’s also where people can drop off donations.
Several OCSO deputies, along with members of @OCAS_Orlando @OCFireRescue and @petallianceGO entered the building while it was on fire and rescued numerous dogs & cats before the fire became too overwhelming. pic.twitter.com/gvqx6VozQw— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) September 16, 2021
It looks like staff with the Pet Alliance just pulled two cats out of the building and put them in a cage. Remarkably, they are still alive. pic.twitter.com/JEOVuKjarF— Treasure Roberts (@News6Treasure) September 16, 2021
Orange County firefighters still on the scene of what was a huge fire last night. Crews are putting out hotspots at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. Several engines are on the road leading to the building. We’re told the fire started around 10:30 last night. pic.twitter.com/HkTiUzwMTn— Treasure Roberts (@News6Treasure) September 16, 2021