23 cats die after fire breaks out at Florida animal shelter

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ORLANDO, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — More than 20 cats were killed when flames tore through an Orlando animal shelter Wednesday night, officials said.

Dramatic body camera video, posted by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, shows deputies, firefighters and animal welfare workers frantically trying to save the animals inside.

The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando reported Thursday that 23 cats were lost in the fire, but all the dogs were saved.

Steve Bardy, the executive director of the agency, called the fire his “worst nightmare.”

He told news outlets that rescue crews were able to safely evacuate all 25 dogs at the center because they were further away from the fire’s point of origin.

“It appears the fire started in the front building by the clinic, which made it more difficult for fire rescue to go into the (adjacent) cat room,” Bardy told news outlets at the scene. His voice broke as he talked about the fire.

“If you run a shelter, this is literally your worst nightmare — to see your building on fire and know that there are animals in there that you’re charged to care for and you can’t go in,” he said.

Orange County Fire Rescue found flames “through the roof” when they arrived at the center shortly after 10:21 p.m. Wednesday, the agency said on Twitter.

At least half of the building was heavily damaged by the fire. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The dogs and some surviving cats were taken to a Pet Alliance shelter in Sanford, officials said.

In a post on Facebook, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said, “we are so glad we were able to save some cats and dogs.”

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