Looking over the charred remains of two houses on Safflower Crescent after last week’s terrible fire, it was hard to imagine anything could be salvaged.
Four vehicles lay ashen under the crumbled garage structures and virtually everything else was unrecognizable, black or grey.
So it seemed even more implausible to imagine that any living thing could have survived.
But apparently, Coco the cat is a survivor.
When Jessica Elliott and her 10-year-old son fled their basement apartment amid a blaze that eventually destroyed five structures and damaged 11 others, she told firefighters that Coco was downstairs in the laundry room.
Rumours circulated after the fire that the cat must have died. Surely the cat died?
But Asst. Chief Mike Bourdon said firefighters knew the cat would be safe until it was safe enough to go in to rescue her.
And Bourdon was right. Later in the day after the fire was out, fire prevention officer Lisa Axelson and fire investigator Peter Kuhr retrieved the cat.
“He was in the laundry room behind the washer and but not happy to leave his sanctuary,” Axelson said. “We persuaded him to come out and get some food and water. He was reunited with his family and is now happy.”
Elliott’s friend Jason Pettyjohn who set up a GoFundMe for the single mother said the mom and son escaped with just the clothes on their back. Coco was presumed to be lost to the fire.
“The next day Jessica was handed Coco wrapped in a cherished blanket that my grandma made for her as a gift, intact,” Pettyjohn said. “I don’t believe in much, but how a cat and that blanket survived this fire is somewhat of a miracle.”