Georgetown Texas Fire Department/Facebook
A tragic fire at a Texas pet-boarding facility has left 75 dogs dead.
The blaze at the Ponderosa Pet Resort, in the city of Georgetown, occurred late Saturday night, according to a press conference given the next day by Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan. By the time fire crews arrived, about four and a half minutes after receiving the 911 calls, the smoke had made it impossible for any rescues, he said.
"It was a quick response," Sullivan said. "Unfortunately, they were met with conditions that are our worst possible scenario and that was heavy smoke and fire involvement."
"This was not occupied by any humans but nonetheless it was by 75 pets and by no indication do I want to lead anyone to believe that that is any less tragic, it is extremely heart-wrenching for us as first responders," he continued.
Sullivan said the department is still actively investigating to figure out what may have caused the fire, noting that he thinks many of the animals likely died from smoke inhalation rather than burns.
"My heart just dropped when I got the address and knew exactly what location we were going to because, quite frankly, I view my personal pet as my closest confidant, friend and the one that doesn't judge," he said. "My heart just breaks for the people today."
"This is a big deal," Sullivan added. "I just wish I could go back in time and make it better."
He also said that several city workers had dogs boarded at the center — "It is also a loss that hits close to home for some of our employees, as well," he said.
In a statement released after the news conference, officials confirmed that all 75 pets were dogs.
Sullivan later confirmed to KVUE that two of the dogs belonged to Georgetown Police Officer Michelle Gattey, who died from COVID-19 complications last week, per a statement from the police department posted on social media.
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"Officer Gattey will be remembered for her wonderful smile, her soft-spoken manner, and her commitment to our country and our community. She truly exemplified what it means to have a servant heart," the statement said.
"Her family, her friends, and all of us will miss her more than words can describe," it concluded. "Rest easy sister. We have the watch."