Residents escape Columbus fire, pets dead or unaccounted for

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Three Columbus residents escaped a house fire Friday morning but several pets perished, according to officials.

The Columbus Fire Department (CFD) was called to the 1700 block of Cottage Avenue around 6:21 a.m. after a report of a residential house fire.

Firefighters arrived and saw heavy fire pushing out of windows at the rear of the home.

Upon arrival, CFD learned that all three occupants of the home had escaped and were uninjured. Resident Linda Galbraith told CFD that she, her adult son and her son’s fiancé were in the home at the time of the fire.

As firefighters prepared to enter the residence, the family advised fire crews that several cats may still be inside the home.

Galbraith told investigators that she owned ten cats and two dogs, and said that her family was able to evacuate three cats and the two dogs before firefighters arrived.

Firefighters met high-heat and heavy black smoke upon entry of the house and brought the fire under control within five minutes.

According to CFD, Galbraith said that she was unsure what caused the fire which started in an unoccupied bedroom.

CFD said five deceased cats were located and transferred them to Columbus Animal Care Services at the scene.

Columbus Animal Care Services is assisting the family with care of the family’s 12 pets, officials said.

At the time of the statement from CFD, two cats are still unaccounted for. At least one cat ran reportedly ran out of the front door when firefighters entered the home.

The official cause of the fire is being reported by investigators as undetermined.

The home received extensive damage estimated to be over $50,000 to the structure and contents.

CFD said the family will be displaced due to the damages to the home, and The Salvation Army is providing disaster assistance for the family.

Officials are reminding the public of the importance of smoke alarms.

“There is no excuse for a family in this, or any community, to live in a home without a working smoke alarm. This family is fortunate that the fire didn’t occur while they were asleep. While any fire is tragic, the ending of that scenario could have been far worse,” Columbus Fire Department Spokesmen Captain Mike Wilson.

The CFD smoke alarm program will install a free smoke alarm for residents in need.

“Smoke alarms can save lives. It’s that simple,” Wilson said.

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