Firefighters save three kittens from two-alarm fire

"An elderly woman suffered smoke inhalation and a family pet died in a two-alarm fire at a home on the 7200 block of Cornell Court, near the Fairgrounds, Tuesday night.The woman, Dolores Salabas, is asthmatic and was taken to Harrison Hospital by her family after the fire, said her daughter, Leticia Kullander. Kullander and her husband, Carl, own the home.One of their four cats also was treated for smoke inhalation and resuscitated by CKFR paramedics. Three of the cats were taken to a veterinary hospital, where one later died.Carl Kullander and his mother-in-law were in the home when the fire broke out. Leticia Kullander was at work.Investigators from CKFR and the county Fire Marshal's Office determined that the fire started in the garage, but the exact cause still is under investigation, said CKFR spokeswoman Judy Knudtzon.Kullander told investigators he was just getting out of the shower when he smelled smoke at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.He said he ran into the dining room and saw fire and smoke coming into the house via a cat door connecting the kitchen to the garage, according to the report.When he tried to call 911 Kullander found the line was dead, and he ran to a neighbor's home to call. But, he said, when he looked back and saw how bad the fire was, he raced back to evacuate his mother-in-law, who uses a wheelchair.Knudtzon said several neighbors called CenCom to report the fire.The garage and kitchen sustained extensive damage, and the living room had some heat and smoke damage. But firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading beyond the living room and kitchen, minimizing fire and heat damage to the rest of the house, Knudtzon said.She said the American Red Cross put the family up at a hotel and gave them some immediate help. The homeowners will have to make other living arrangements while the damage is repaired by their insurance company.Leticia Kullander returned to her home Wednesday, with its charred garage and blue Ford Ranger pickup truck, windshield cracked and front-end paint peeled to the metal, still parked in front of where the garage door had been.One cat, which Kullander called the baby, had escaped the blaze and taken refuge somewhere nearby in the neighborhood.May-May, here girl, here's fresh water, Kullander called as she washed off a soot-covered dish she'd unearthed from the burned kitchen cupboard. She placed the dish of bottled water, and saucer with cat food, under the kitchen deck for the animal. Kullander peered around rocks and dirt under the deck, looking for and calling the cat. But wherever it had found refuge, it chose to stay there. Kullander picked her way through a pile of charred wood, logs and broken glass on her way out of the yard.She left with her sister, Dercita Sisson, to check on their mother at the hospital. "

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