Firemen save life of bungalow blaze cat

A recovering Baby is pictured with veterinary nurse Kim Kendall at the North Devon Animal Ambulance special care unit in the Market Veterinary Centre, Barnstaple. A recovering Baby is pictured with veterinary nurse Kim Kendall at the North Devon Animal Ambulance special care unit in the Market Veterinary Centre, Barnstaple.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
10:44 AM

Barnstaple fire fighters rescue and resuscitate family pet after blaze rips through home.

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"I was just crying and convinced she was dead."

Owner Mandy Chapple.

A GRATEFUL owner has praised fire fighters who brought her cat back to life after rescuing it from her blazing home.

Two fire crews from Barnstaple’s Green Watch were called to the bungalow in Bingham Crescent just after 3pm on Sunday, to be met with smoke and flames billowing from the building.

A distressed Mandy Chapple told them her cat Baby was still inside and fire fighters donned breathing apparatus before entering the house to fight the fire.

Mandy’s sister Kim had already managed to drag her dogs Gerrard and Marley from the house, with six-year-old collie Gerrard at first refusing to leave the cat.

"Out of a dreadful situation they have managed to avert a real tragedy."

Diana Lewis, North Devon Animal Ambulance.

The fire fighters emerged with a soot-covered lifeless cat, but undaunted, managed to fit a mask to Baby’s head and give her oxygen.

A distraught Mandy could no longer bear to watch, but amazingly, after heart massage and 15 minutes of oxygen, 19-year-old Baby began to revive.

“I know it has been done before on other animals, but it’s the first time we as watch have done it,” said Watch Manager Steve Isaac.

“Our first priority was to fight the fire and stop it spreading to neighbouring properties, but once we’d knocked it down enough we were able to search for the cat.

"Obviously human life is our first priority, but any life is there to be rescued."

Watch Manager Steve Isaac, DSFRS.

“Obviously human life is our first priority, but any life is there to be rescued.”

The animals were collected from the scene by Diana Lewis of North Devon Animal Ambulance. Baby and Gerrard were treated for smoke inhalation but are recovering and the clinic is looking after them until Mandy can find a new home.

Mrs Lewis said but for the ‘amazing’ actions of the fire service, the cat would have died: “Out of a dreadful situation they have managed to avert a real tragedy – although she has lost her home at least they saved her animals.

“The firemen were wonderful, they gave the same care to that cat that they would have done for a child.

“There was nowhere for the animals to go, so the charity is taking care of the animals until Mandy can get everything sorted out.”

The fire destroyed one room of the house and the rest was damaged by heat and smoke. The cause is thought to have been accidental.

Mandy said she had only left the house for a few minutes: “One minute the bungalow was there, the next it was on fire. When they brought Baby out she was completely black – I was just crying and convinced she was dead.

“The firemen were absolutely brilliant, I can’t praise them enough and they were there so quickly – I just want to say a big ‘thank you’ to them for all their help.

“People have been so kind and the community spirit has been amazing. My family and friends have been brilliant, everyone has rallied around, it’s been overwhelming.”

The only casualty to the flames was one of Mandy’s hamsters. Kim managed to save one of the pair but could not reach the other.

Black Labrador Marley, aged four, seems to have escaped unscathed, but Gerrard is still receiving treatment, as is Baby, who is on antibiotics to prevent pneumonia.

“I have had Gerrard since he was five weeks old and they were brought up together,” said Mandy.

“He would not leave her and was trying to get her to move. My sister kept calling him and eventually he came out.”

Mandy and her son Josh have been staying with her mother while North Devon Homes helps them to find new housing.

“My friend Carol Lewis has been absolutely brilliant, she has been posting messages on Facebook, asking people to get things for me,” she added.

“People have been so kind and the community spirit has been amazing.”

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