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 Firefighters prepare to render aid to a cat that firefighters found unconscious under a bed in an apartment that caught fire May 30.

Firefighters prepare to render aid to a cat that firefighters found unconscious under a bed in an apartment that caught fire May 30.

Photo provided by Dennis Walus


Firefighters unable to revive cat in apartment fire

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 2, 2020

 Royal Oak firefighters survey the exterior damage to an apartment on the top floor of a building located in the 1900 block of Parmenter Boulevard, near Crooks and West 14 Mile roads, May 30.

Royal Oak firefighters survey the exterior damage to an apartment on the top floor of a building located in the 1900 block of Parmenter Boulevard, near Crooks and West 14 Mile roads, May 30.

Photo provided by Dennis Walus

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ROYAL OAK — An 11-year-old cat named Gremlin is dead after likely succumbing to smoke inhalation in an apartment fire, despite Royal Oak firefighters’ best efforts to save the cat’s life.

Royal Oak Fire Inspector Shawn Lambouris said firefighters responded to a top-story apartment in the 1900 block of Parmenter Boulevard, near Crooks and West 14 Mile roads, at approximately 6:28 p.m. Saturday, May 30.

He said the Fire Department issued a full response, including all of its fire engines, every ambulance and its ladder truck.

“There was fire in the kitchen and in the living room, and smoke damage in the bathroom and bedrooms,” Lambouris said. “One good thing is the firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it got into the attic, which is one large common space for the whole building. It had just started to.”

If the fire burnt through the ceiling and entered the attic, he said, it would have caused much more damage and taken much longer to extinguish.

While the couple who occupied the apartment were not home at the time, their cat was. Lambouris said firefighters located the unconscious feline under the bed in a bedroom, transported it outside, and attempted to revive it using a pet oxygen mask for 10 or 15 minutes.

“They gave it their best effort,” he said.

Lambouris said he believes the fire started in the living room of the apartment, but the official cause remains undetermined. He explained that the official cause would be established when the fire inspector from the building owner’s insurance company does a more in-depth investigation.

“We do a preliminary investigation and preserve evidence,” he said. “There were a lot of electronics in the living room.”

As far as damage, he said the couple’s apartment sustained heavy smoke, fire and water damage, rendering it uninhabitable.

“They’re going to have to gut that whole apartment — rebuild the walls and the floor and everything,” Lambouris said. “The hallways outside of the apartment had smoke damage. I don’t believe there was smoke damage in the other apartments, but I suspect the apartments below may have had water damage.”

During stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19, the Fire Department’s run volume was down, except for a lot of suspected COVID-19 cases and some confirmed cases, he said.

“Most of the other residents didn’t want to go to the hospital, because they didn’t want to get exposed. So even though the COVID runs were up, overall run volume was down,” Lambouris said.

During lockdown, he said, the Fire Department responded to a handful of structure fires in which no humans suffered any injuries; however, in one case, another cat perished.

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