Two cats' lives are saved from fire that damages Owen Brown home


A fire damaged an Owen Brown townhouse yesterday afternoon, but two cats were purring in a veterinarian's office last night after being rescued by firefighters and resuscitated by paramedics.

The fire, which started about 1 p.m. and was brought under control in 15 to 20 minutes, caused no human injuries and is being investigated by the state fire marshal, said Battalion Chief Stephen Ricker.

Fire officials could not immediately identify the owner of the home in the 7200 block of Dockside Lane.

A few minutes after arriving, firefighters emerged from the smoky townhouse with a pair of cats suffering from smoke inhalation.

An emergency medical technician immediately started giving a long-haired calico air through an infant-sized mask connected to an oxygen tank. The cat seemed sluggish, firefighters said, but responded quickly to treatment.

Then another firefighter emerged from the building carrying a "totally limp" cat. That's when Christine Uhlhorn, a paramedic, went to work.

Uhlhorn rushed the gray tabby to the ambulance, placing the cat on a cot, just as its breathing ceased.

Uhlhorn quickly checked for a pulse, a heartbeat, but found none.

"She was going to die if I didn't do something," said Uhlhorn. Her partner, paramedic Rhonda Winkler, immediately put an infant-sized ventilator over the cat's mouth and began squeezing the oxygen bag.

When that didn't work, Uhlhorn put a tube down the tabby's throat to allow more air, while massaging the cat's chest. Soon, Uhlhorn noticed the tabby's eyes twinge with life and its tongue turn from blue to pink.

Eventually, both cats were transported by animal control officials to a veterinarian's office.

"It's going to be just fine," said Uhlhorn, who's been a paramedic for nine years and saved a dog from a well about three years ago. "I treated it just like any patient."

Uhlhorn said she thought about her 2-year-old alley cat, Boopsy, as she fought to save the fat tabby yesterday.

"She's in trouble for something," Uhlhorn said. "But I think I'll give her a treat or something when I get home."

Pub Date: 12/10/97

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