Cats killed, house destroyed in Sunset Lane fire

Published May 19, 2018 at 4:11pm

Several cats were killed in a large house fire that tore through a home on Sunset Lane in the city’s outer district Friday afternoon.

No people were injured during the fire.

Homeowner Laurie Stafford was not at home when the fire started in the furnished basement at 8394 Sunset Lane, a small cul-de-sac off Lorena Road, fire officials said. A neighbor saw the smoke and raised the alarm to 9-1-1 at 3:36 p.m.

“At the point that we got there, the house was pretty much consumed,” said Deputy Fire Chief Mark S. Kohlbrenner. “We believe it started in the basement.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Kohlbrenner said the flames spread up through the back and side of the residence, then burned a large hole in the middle of the roof. Responding firefighters launched an exterior attack.

“Once I saw the back of the house, I realized it wouldn’t be safe to put anybody inside,” the chief stated.

Kohlbrenner said there was some trouble initially when the first two fire hydrants they tried had low water pressure. The Lake Delta, Lee Center and Westernville volunteer fire departments aided in tankering water to the scene.

“The volunteer firefighters did a phenomenal job bringing us water,” Kohlbrenner said.

The fire was declared under control in less than an hour. Crews remained on the scene dousing hotspots and cleaning up for several hours more.

Once the building was clear, Kohlbrenner said several pet cats were discovered dead inside the home. One cat managed to escape, and was found hiding in the bushes nearby, he added.

The chief said Stafford, the homeowner and sole resident, was insured for the damage. He said she was staying with friends overnight, and the American Red Cross had been notified to assist.