Firefighters rescue a cat trapped in a burning home in University City

Posted at 11:28 PM, Sep 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-07 02:28:38-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV)-- Firefighters saved a cat after it was trapped in an electrical fire that sparked in the garage of a University City home.

Neighbor Garey Ramey knew something was wrong when he saw his 2-year-old Chihuahua, Pippen acting erratically. 

“He was going crazy, running around the yard," Ramey said. 

When he followed Pippen outside, he saw his long-time neighbor’s home engulfed in a ball of fire. The flames were so close to his own house, he could feel the heat. 

“It was shooting out the garage, straight," Ramey said.

San Diego Fire crews got to the home on Millikin Avenue in University City at around 6:40 pm Thursday. They saw that the sole resident and her dog had already run out to safety. Her cat, on the other hand, was still trapped inside.

 “The fire extended up to the front of the house, in through the windows and into the attic space,” Bat. Chief Lane Woolery of San Diego Fire-Rescue said. 

Investigators said this was caused by an accidental electrical fire in the garage. Crews attacked the aggressive flames from floor level, second story, and the roof.

“The truck, for ventilation, cut a hole in the roof, to let heat out of the structure so they can conduct a more accurate search of the building," Woolery said. 

In that secondary search, crews heard a meow behind a closed door in the back office. It was the owner's black cat, Lillith. 

 “We brought that cat out and gave them to the homeowner, so they have their cat," Woolery said. 

Fire crews estimated the home has at least $300,000 in structural damage and an additional $150,000 in property damage. However, 10News spoke with the homeowner, who was in good spirits. While her husband was away for business, her adult son immediately came to comfort her. 

Battalion Chief Woolery said it is important to note that they were able to bring back the cat alive only because the doors inside the home were closed. That slowed the spread of the fire, bought crews time to get inside, conduct a secondary search, and rescue the cat.