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Firefighters save pets from Thursday blaze

November 19, 2011

By CARL SMITH
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

Starkville firefighters saved two family pets trapped in a Thursday morning trailer fire while battling flames and smoke.
SFD Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy said firefighters responded to an emergency call at 1012 Louisville St. between 6-6:30 a.m. Once on the scene, firefighters aboard Engine 4 — Lt. Doug Ware, Acting Sgt. Todd Palmer and Firefighter Cole Norman — discovered the trailer was fully engulfed at its midsection, McCurdy said.
The home’s occupants had safely fled the trailer, but three pets — two cats and a dog — remained inside the burning building. All of the occupants made it safely out of the house, but one person went to the hospital later in the day for treatments of minor hand burns.
While Palmer worked Engine 4’s pumps, McCurdy said, Ware and Norman entered the trailer and made an aggressive attack on the flames, quickly knocking down the fire. The firefighters first removed one of the cats from the building, handed it off to Palmer and continued their search for the remaining pets.
Once Palmer discovered the cat was not responsive or breathing, McCurdy said, he cleaned soot from its nose, placed an oxygen mask on its face and began administering CPR.
“(Palmer) fell back on his training. If we can do it for humans, we can do it for pets,” McCurdy said. “Within about 30 seconds, the cat came back around and took its first breath. In this type of job, you never know what to expect.”
Returning into the trailer, Ware and Norman discovered the dog trapped inside, McCurdy said. Both pets were placed under the care of Dr. Jeff Smith and transported to Smith Animal Hospital.
Firefighters continued their search for the last remaining cat, but it succumbed to smoke inhalation.
On Friday, Smith said both animals are expected to make a full recovery.
“Firefighters did CPR to the best they know how. We gave them some fluids and medicine to open up their airways,” Smith said. “They’re both doing great.”
As for the trailer, McCurdy said the fire severely damaged the home.
“The trailer was pretty much a total loss. The interior had heavy smoke and flame damage,” he said. “It’s uninhabitable now.”
The fire was deemed accidental by SFD investigators due to the improper use of a stove.
“It’s important for people to remember some things aren’t meant to heat homes,” McCurdy said. “Smoke detectors were in the trailer, but they did not function because the batteries were dead. Everyone was extremely lucky to get out alive. This story could have easily been different.”
Besides checking fire detectors, McCurdy said the public should be aware to keep combustibles away from sources of heat and always ensure chimneys and other sources of ventilation are clean during the winter.
Many of the occupants’ possessions were damaged and unsalvageable, but McCurdy said local agencies, including OSERVS and the Red Cross, have stepped in to provide needed relief.
McCurdy said he was not only proud of SFD’s efforts, but also Smith’s role.
“Our firefighters did an excellent job, and we appreciate Dr. Smith’s help. He went above and beyond the call of duty,” McCurdy said. “This is a team effort, and that’s what this it’s all about.”
“Those firefighters’ actions are a part of the job we do. We understand how important pets are to families,” SFD Chief Rodger Mann said. “We were glad to be in a position to help.”

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