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At least 20 cats die in morning house fire

By: Maria Miller

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- It could have been prevented - that's what firefighters are saying about an early-morning blaze in Johnstown. Nobody was hurt but nearly two dozen cats were killed.

The fire broke out around 7:30 a.m. Thursday on Rear Cypress Avenue in the city's Moxham section.

As of Thursday evening, there wasn't much left to the second floor of the home, where the tenants lived, except for some charred remains. The people who live next door told 6 News they consider themselves lucky and thank firefighters for getting them out safe and saving their home.

"I went in and looked out my bathroom window and all I could see was a wall of flames," said Edward Misner. "I'm thinking, 'There goes my house.'"

Misner's house is less than 10 feet away from the home on Rear Cypress Avenue that went up in flames early Thursday morning. He told 6 News he no longer noticed the fire and woke up his wife before fire crews were already inside his house to get them out.

"I started to get dressed and come downstairs and they had broke in my door and were coming up the steps already," Misner said.

"We had the exposure which was an issue, overhead lines was an issue. They were sparking and ready to and obviously the temperature was an issue," said Johnstown Fire Chief Anthony Kovacic.

Fighting both flames and temperatures in the single digits, firefighters received some help, taking turns keeping warm in busses provided by CamTran and hot drinks brought up from Sheetz.

"As they entered the second floor they encountered a lot of cats. The individual had a lot of pets," Kovacic said. "Unfortunately as we brought them out we were unsuccessful in reviving any one of them."

Kovacic said those living in the home were renters and have already admitted they may have caused the fire.

"The individual did leave something on the stove bevore he left and realized when he came back," Kovacic said. "As he came back, he saw the fire engines and realized it was his house."

"[The fire department] came in and got it under control right away," Misner said. "There was hardly any damage to my house. They did a great job."

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times