Sentinel & Enterprise
CAT PERISHES IN FIRE
LANCASTER » Five residents were displaced on Tuesday night after a fire broke out on the first floor of a two-story apartment house at 217 White Pond Road.
One of the apartment’s residents, Felicia Byrne, said she was asleep in the upstairs apartment when she woke up struggling to breathe and smelling smoke about 11:30 p.m. She then woke her boyfriend, Robert Dandy, who went looking for the fire by following the smoke coming from downstairs.
“I thought something was on fire in our place, that’s how bad it was,” Byrne said.
After determining that the fire was not upstairs, they found keys to open the downstairs apartment. When they opened the door, they both immediately saw the flames.
“As soon as we opened the door, our eyes watered, and we
couldn’t breathe,” Dandy said.
Dandy, his mother, Byrne, and their cat were able to escape without injury. Dandy’s uncle who shares the apartment with them was not home at the time.
The occupant of the downstairs apartment was not home at the time and returned home shortly after. Firefighters were able to rescue a cat from the downstairs apartment but despite attempts by firefighters to resuscitate the pet, it died.
Dandy said that they were able to retrieve their belongings but are currently unable to stay in the apartment.
Lancaster Fire Chief Mark Hanson said Wednesday that the department learned of the fire with a 911 call at about midnight and had the fire knocked down within minutes of arriving.
However, Hanson said, there were no nearby hydrants and other departments had to shuttle in water.
Fire departments from Leominster, Shirley, Harvard and Boxboro assisted the Lancaster Department with water, mutual aid and coverage.
Hanson said the cause is still under investigation, however, the preliminary indications are it was an accidental electrical fire.
The damage is not likely to be a total loss. The downstairs apartment sustained significant heat damage and could cost between $60,000 and $70,000, he said.