ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Officials say more than a dozen cats are dead after a massive fire broke out at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando facility off of Conroy Road on Wednesday evening.
The fire is believed to have started around 10:30 p.m. near the cat room.
Firefighters said the blaze had consumed 50 percent of the property at 2727 Conroy Road, and flames "were through the roof."
Orange County Sheriff's Office
"If you run a shelter, this is literally your worst nightmare," said a visibly shaken Stephen Bardy, the executive director of The Pet Alliance during an early morning news conference, "to see your building on fire and know that there are animals in there that you're charged to care for and you can't go in."
It is still not known how the fire started but the state is investigating. Officials do know that the fire started in the front of the clinic though.
In a Facebook post from the shelter on Thursday morning, they confirmed that 23 cats were lost to the fire.
There are said to be another 150 animals in the care of foster families who were not in the building. For example, Brady confirmed that many small kittens were in foster care.
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On Thursday morning, several more cats were found alive and were pulled from the building hours after the fire began. One of them is pregnant. In total, 20 cats were able to be rescued. Officials say all of 26 dogs made it out. The animals that were rescued were transferred to the Orange County Animal Rescue facility.
A veterinarian with the Pet Alliance spay and neuter clinic performed triage. Several dogs and cats will be relocated to the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando's Sanford facility.
"I'm grateful that the firefighters have put their lives at risk to help save as many as they could," Bardy added.
Dozens of firefighters responded to the blaze, which they fought to contain well past midnight. Units from the Orange County Animal Services, Orange County Sheriff's Office, and Orange County Fire Rescue were on scene to help rescue animals.
Orange County Sheriff's Office
In an update on Thursday morning, an Orange County Fire Rescue official said that the layout of the building provided some obstacles for firefighters, describing it as "kind of like a maze in there." He also said at some point, the fire got so overwhelming that crews had to be pulled out.
There is extensive damage to the building but no firefighters or deputies were injured though, he added.
Founded in 1937, The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando is one of the region’s oldest and largest animal welfare agencies. It serves Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and parts of Brevard, Lake, and Volusia counties.
Officials say volunteers are not necessary right now just supplies and money. Donations can be made on the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando website and donations should be dropped off at Sanford location at 2800 County Home Road.
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