10 cats killed, 9 saved in Lancaster house fire

Homeowner Ann Brooks said she is working with her insurance company to see what can be done about the home, where she's lived since 1996.

Homeowner Ann Brooks said she is working with her insurance company to see what can be done about the home, where she’s lived since 1996.

LANCASTER – The fire that destroyed an east Lancaster home and killed several cats late Tuesday night appears to have started accidentally, authorities said Wednesday.

“It appears electrical and it appears to have started between the garage and the structure,” said Inspector Tony Akins with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Firefighters worked for about 90 minutes to put out the flames, and "knockdown" was declared about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, officials said. (ED FROMMER)

Firefighters worked for about 90 minutes to put out the flames, and “knockdown” was declared about 12:45 a.m., officials said. (ED FROMMER)

Firefighters received the call around 11:30 p.m. and arrived to heavy smoke and flames coming from a home in the 300 Block of Lingard Street, Akins said.

The flames were knocked down about 90 minutes later, and firefighters managed to rescue several cats from the home, Akins said. Unfortunately, they were not able to save them all.

“I lost 10 cats last night,” homeowner Ann Brooks said Wednesday, choking back tears. Brooks said she was at a house down the street when one of her neighbors alerted her to the fire.

A firefighter hands over one of the cats to Brooks.  Several of them required oxygen after they were rescued. (ED FROMMER)

A firefighter hands over one of the cats to Brooks. Several of them required oxygen after they were rescued. (ED FROMMER)

At one point, Brooks had to be handcuffed to stop her from running into the home to save her cats. She said she told firefighters where the cats were, and compassionate firefighters managed to rescue six of her cats and three kittens.

“They put my towels in water and wrapped it around them, God bless them. The kittens are just two weeks old, they just got their eyes open,” Brooks said, adding that one cat died in her arms shortly after the rescue.

“I was trying to save her, my tiny princess. I tried giving her mouth-to-mouth myself, and then they gave me an oxygen thing, and I kept at it for about a half hour. But she succumbed,” Brooks said.

Neighbors said Brooks was known for taking in and feeding stray cats in the neighborhood.

“She was like the Pied Piper for cats,” said a woman who did not give her name. Another neighbor said animal control officers in “hazmat gear” had descended on the home a few months back and removed dozens of cats.

Brooks said she had been “going back and forth” with the city’s code enforcement team for about a year and had been working on keeping her grass green, repairing a hole in her roof and renewing her Waste Management contract. She said, despite her efforts, the city declared her home uninhabitable in late October.

“They landed on my doorstep with gas masks and picture taking and all kinds of stuff,” Brooks said. “At first, they wouldn’t let me in my own house. I had to sign all kinds of things.”

Brooks said she surrendered about 40 cats to animal control and vacated her home in October, as required. Since then, she had been cleaning up and repairing her home during the day, and staying in a back bedroom at a neighbor’s house at night, Brooks said.

Brooks is renting a room from a neighbor, and says she does not require donations. She would like residents to pray for her cats.

Brooks is renting a room from a neighbor, and says she does not require donations. She would like residents to pray for her cats.

Brooks said she still continued to open her home and her heart to cats.

“It has to do with people that are moving out and leaving their pets, and then they land at my place and they all have stories. They need help,” Brooks said. “A shelter that has 75% kill rate is not my idea of help.”

Brooks said she is working with her insurance company to see what can be done for the home, where she has lived since 1996. She said her husband passed away in 2004, and her two adult children reside outside the Antelope Valley.

“I just turned 70, and I’m alone here, with just my pets,” she said.

Brooks said she does not require assistance from the American Red Cross or donations from the community.

“Just pray,” Brooks said. “Materials things are just that, but I lost a home for my cats.”

  21 comments for “10 cats killed, 9 saved in Lancaster house fire

  1. Kim
    February 13, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Shame on all of you and your rude comments. God bless you Ann for taking care of the poor unwanted cats and I feel awful for you and the poor lost cats. I am a fellow cat lover and it makes me sick how people just leave their animals as if they are garbage and basically leave them for death. So sorry you people have to deal with some smells…wow! Have some compassion people. please.

  2. Jackie
    February 13, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Thank You Francisco and you’re more than welcome to come and get as many cats as you’d like

    • John
      February 13, 2014 at 3:11 pm

      Are they yours to give away?

  3. irritated
    February 13, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I truly sympathize with all of you as I am not fond of cats either, but really people, this is a story of loss! This is no it as time or a place to air your disgust. There is a separate section in the times for that. Seriously, let’s have some compassion for this woman who has lost her home and lives were lost cats or not!!!

    • Misha
      February 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      Exactly my thoughts. Whether or not you like cats (or dogs or kids or whatever), the loss of these living, feeling creatures is tragic. As someone with a lot of pets (and no I’m not a hoarder, I prefer the company of animals over people), my biggest fear is fire, either wild or house. That being said, I have an emergency evac plan and lots of carriers in place. I know this isn’t a solution in all situations but it helps me sleep better at night.
      Lastly, many condolences and much love to you Ann, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  4. sjgranai
    February 13, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Hoarding does nothing to help a problem. Sadly…they are part of the problem masked behind a well intended heart.
    Your good nature should not impose on the right of peaceful enjoyment.of another.
    I love what reputable and lawfully operating rescues do.
    Another case of good intentions gone wrong.

  5. Christina
    February 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    It kills me. As a rescue yes I am sad but I am sure we saved one of her cats. . So many of these hoarders get overwhelmed and medical care is often neglected.

  6. sosad
    February 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    We have 2 rescued cats and then rescued a tabby that was living in our apartment parking lot so now we have 3. I certainly feel for the plight of so many unwanted cats in our world but we can only do so much to help. Hoarders just don’t understand that, they adopt any cat they find or hear about and can’t afford to spay/neuter so then kittens happen and next thing you know they become overwhelmed.

    But in a way I understand how a hoarder feels, When our cats don’t eat all their wet food we put the leftovers in a Tupperware container and I walk it 6 houses down to an abandoned building that has 5 stray cats living in it, they are all wild and I can’t get within 30 feet of them, but as I watch them eat I feel sorry for them and wish I could somehow adopt them all. Because its not their fault they were given a bad hand in life and they don’t deserve to suffer.

  7. As
    February 12, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Surrendered 40 cats! Wow. And still had 19?? And didn’t have a waste management contract? Stinky

  8. Rebecca
    February 12, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    This Jackie should be ashamed of herself . This is a story about loss. It’s not about you and the inconvenience you had to deal with by picking up cat poop. What’s truly unhealthy is your lack of compassion for your neighbor who isn’t even asking for monetary help. All she’s asking for is prayers.

    • Jackie
      February 13, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Rebecca you are welcome to come and pick up cats too not only am i picking up cat poop but they sprayed all over my car by my garage it smells they destroy plants it’s not just a little inconvenience if she were being a responsible pet owner there would be no problem

      • John
        February 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm

        You lack compassion in a dire time for someone, I only hope when something tragic happens to you someone does not turn and say, Jackie, Why would I help her, she is a bitter old soul.

  9. jackie
    February 12, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    try living next to some one that hoardes cats its disgusting i have been dealing with this for the last 5 years i thought that maybe there would be some relief when the city stepped in but she had a yard full of cats by the end of the week the fact that they use my yard as thier own personal litter box is beyond annoying its unhealthy and it stinks i hope she gets the kind of help she really needs

    • acecarolla
      February 12, 2014 at 8:45 pm

      There is about 5 cats in my neighborhood using various lawns as
      their own yellow spotting poop spot. Never could (or want to) imagine living
      next to this type of thing. No hoarding! Get Help!

    • Francisco
      February 12, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      Your a b$tch

    • Marlee
      February 13, 2014 at 1:06 am

      Your a [removed] for saying that Jackie. Theres so many people out ere that dont even care for animals at least she had open doors for them!! Animals are just like humas remember that! She may have had a lit if cats but at least she cared! And if you felt that way qhy didnt you move? Simple as that

      • Jackie
        February 13, 2014 at 2:53 pm

        I bought my house just like she did I deserve the right to enjoy my property just like she did I don’t think I should be forced to live like a pig just because my neighbor wants to why don’t you take her and her cats in evidently you do not realize how unhealthy cat feces and urine is to breathe N and when you have that many cat urinating and defecating on your property its not healthy when friends and family come to visit in the comment on the smell it’s quite noticeable it really can’t be that healthy for the cats either

      • sikntired
        February 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

        Hoarding animals does not equal caring for them or loving them.Hoarding is a mental illness and she needs help.Hoarding animals is unhealthy for people and animals alike.Homeowners have a right to expect Animal Control to do their job and put a stop to it.
        Animals living like that become unsociable and have a difficult if not impossible time being placed.
        Jackie has a right to live in a healthy neighborhood.

        • Chris W
          February 14, 2014 at 6:49 am

          Good point sikntired… I know Ms. Brooks and she has a very kind soul… but that many cats is unhealthy for such a confined area…even cat lovers have ti admit when things get ridiculous. She didnt ask for help but she probably needs it. I hope things get better for everyone, Jackie, Ms Brooks, the rest of the neighborhood… but where were all you cat lovers when they condemned her house and removed the first 12 cats?… i guess maybe you dropped off another 16 (one pregnant one), because you felt so bad.

          • CaliGirl
            February 14, 2014 at 12:54 pm

            Unbelievable, she took in strays, this usually means they were roaming the neighborhood anyway, she just gave them a home.

            I believe the state the world is in today, people should have much bigger concerns, seriously.

            This planet does not belong to HUMANS ALONE, it belongs to all living creatures and just because they don’t participate in our corrupt monetary system, does not give us the right to just discard them like trash! I am sure all in all we are far more disgusting then they will ever be.

        • CaliGirl
          February 16, 2014 at 12:13 am

          There was a pig farm in SCV where a friend of mine lived when I was in high school, the place had feral cats everywhere, I trapped (by hand) 4 cats (that I recall maybe more) one bit my thumb all the way to the bone and well that one, I just could never like, my mom gave it to a friend at work, 1 year later, he was asking if we could get him a couple more, that cat turned out to be the best cat he ever owned.
          One of the cats we kept spent 3 months under the bed, I dug him out every night to pet him for a while.
          6 mo later and that cat was the biggest little lover I have ever seen, I have owned a lot of cats in my life, so many I can’t even recall all of them (ALL were fixed) but that cat remains my favorite cat of all, another one of those feral cats was second to the other in favorites at that time, I will always choose to tame a feral cat over a tame one.
          I have a former feral cat today even, besides winter nights, she won’t be kept indoors much, sometimes, during the heat in the summer she will stay in, took me 3 years to get close to this cat but it was so worth it.

          Love animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble their joy, don’t harass them, don’t deprive them of their happiness, don’t work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you – alas, it is true of almost every one of us!”~Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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