Basement fire claims life of pet cat

CALCUTTA – A basement fire Sunday resulted in the death of the home owner’s pet cat, despite efforts by firefighters to breathe life into the feline.

Firefighters from Calcutta, Glenmoor and Liverpool Township responded at 4:50 p.m. to the home of Patricia Baker, 48626 Lakeview Circle, after a fire alarm system in the house alerted her to a blaze in a basement room, according to Calcutta Chief Scott Smith.

Baker went downstairs and opened a door, where she could see the flames in the room, which was used as a computer room, Smith said. She and other occupants ran from the house and called the fire department.

“Luckily, we were right there at the station on another call, landing a helicopter,” Smith said, noting that the helicopter had been landed for a medical call involving one of Baker’s neighbors.

Firefighters arrived on the scene at 4:51 p.m. to find flames shooting from the basement windows, and Smith said firefighters Ray Baker and Lance Smith were able to get inside and knock down the blaze quickly, saying, “It was a really hot fire.”

Lance Smith – the chief’s son – was treated at the scene by Lifeteam ambulance for heat exhaustion.

A woman Chief Smith believed to be Mrs. Baker’s daughter was also taken to the hospital for observation.

Firefighters discovered the family’s cat in a room behind the burning room and brought it outside where an attempt to administer oxygen with an air mask was made.

When that failed to revive the cat, Glenmoor assistant Chief Bill Bennett began to administer mouth-to-mouth breathing, which also was unsuccessful.

“I’d never done it before on a cat, but it was worth a shot. I couldn’t find a pulse. It was in (the burning house) too long,” Bennett said.

The fire began in the basement, and Smith said it appears to have been an electrical issue in a wall plug. He said the Bakers had recently purchased the home and moved in, having also just repainted it and installed new carpeting.

Fire damage was contained to the basement room, but the remainder of the home sustained considerable heat and smoke damage, he said, adding it was fortunate firefighters were at the station when the call came in, which helped lessen the damage to the house.

Firefighters remained on the scene until 6:39 p.m.