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SUNDAY, APRIL 8, 2007
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Owens firefighters save cats from house fire

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com · 340-2445

OWENS — When Jessica Burgess smelled smoke and then saw flames in her kitchen Saturday morning, she hurried her two children out of the house and called 911.

When Owens and Tanner volunteer firefighters arrived, they learned that eight felines had been left inside the Limestone County home.

“Jessica was crying, saying her cats, including a mama cat and her babies, were still inside,” said Sherie Swanner, an EMT with Owens Volunteer Fire Department.

Swanner and fellow EMT Ron Roberson entered the flaming home and found the cats and kittens upstairs.

“They were overcome from the smoke,” Swanner said. “One kitten was dead.”

Once they got the cats outside, Swanner and Roberson used a child-size breathing apparatus to resuscitate the cats.

Conditions of cats

The mother cat, three of her kittens and one male cat were doing OK on Saturday afternoon, Burgess said. One male cat and a fourth kitten were “touch-and-go,” her veterinarian told her.

Although thankful for firefighters’ efforts to save their feline family, the Burgess family now is in need.

Their home has fire, smoke and water damage. Their clothes, furniture and toys were destroyed. The American Red Cross is assisting the family, and they plan to stay with family members.

Owens firefighters are asking that the community pitch in and help.

Jessica Burgess and her husband, Adam, have a 2-year-
old son and a 4-year-old daughter.

To make donations for the family, contact Theresa Lovell at 777-7981, Sherie Swanner at 874-5881 or Roger Dale Swanner at 874-1527.

The fire at 9:40 a.m. Saturday was the third to erupt and destroy a structure in Limestone County since Wednesday night.

On Wednesday about 9:30 p.m., firefighters from the Owens, West Limestone and Pleasant Grove volunteer fire departments battled a house fire on Grigsby Ferry Road in western Limestone County for about 31/2 hours.

Source of blaze

Owens Fire Chief Gary Lovell said the fire apparently started at a coffee bean roaster in the garage area.

The residents were home at the time of the fire but got out safely.

On Thursday morning, a fire caused extensive damage to Peace Missionary Baptist Church on Plainview Circle in Athens.

The congregation had erected crosses for Easter, but now members are attending Easter services at other congregations, such as Little Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

Athens Assistant Fire Chief Danny Southard said the fire apparently started in the preacher’s office.

The cause is under investigation but does not appear to be arson.

The congregation plans to rebuild at its current location.

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