Officials are still trying to figure out what caused the fire. It started in a back bedroom. Four people were able to get out of the house safely. However, the biggest challenge for firefighters was trying to save all the cats.
“We put the fire out and then we started bringing out the cats,” said West Shore Fire District Chief Stephen Scafariello. “The guys started resuscitating the cats.”
They used a special mask for animals to give them oxygen. First respondents were able to revive five cats that were unconscious. Twenty-six of the 40 cats died of smoke inhalation.
Related Content: Dozens of cats die in house fire; 1 child, 3 adults escape
A neighbor, who did not want to give her name, says she sometimes saw the cats outside.
“Some of them went around the neighborhood. No, I didn’t even know she had that many,” the neighbor said.
A volunteer firefighter also lived in the house. Investigators say the cats were not in cages and seemed to be well cared for. Fourteen cats are now in the care of the West Haven Animal Shelter.
The homeowner is signing them over to the shelter, which will then find homes for them.
Related Content: West Haven firefighters rescue cats from house fire
“[The owner] was consumed by it,” the neighbor said. “I mean, they’re all cute and she had them all named I think.”
There is no law in West Haven against having this many cats, as long as they are taken care of. Still, firefighters do not respond to many calls like this one.
“Not very common, you always run into a family pet, but never 40 for me,” said Scafariello.
The Red Cross is now helping the family that lived in the house.
No people were hurt in the fire.