Shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday, Brian and Tina Gaines and their family returned from church to find fire trucks blocking their street and thick smoke pouring from their home of 18 years.
The fire was initially discovered by a neighbor, Mitchel Vance, when he stepped outside of his home next door to 913 Cowell St.
Upon seeing the smoke coming from the house, he ran back inside and called 911. Back outside, an unidentified man who was passing by in his truck, stopped to help.
Since there were two cars parked in front of the house, they thought someone may have been in the house and kicked in the front door. Upon discovering that there was no one at home, concern shifted to the Gaines four-legged family members.
“I tried to get the cats,” said neighbor Michelle Powell, “but the house was already full of smoke.”
Powell used a sprayer on the end of a garden hose to break a window in an attempt to get the cats to come out. The family’s two dogs were found safe in the back yard, away from the house.
One of the cats was eventually rescued from the home, but another cat is still unaccounted for and presumed to have died in the home.
Claremore fire crews arrived on the scene at 10:57 a.m. and worked for about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire.
Most of the fire was confined to the back of the house and the back porch, but most of the rest of the house suffered smoke and water damage.
According to Battalion Chief, Ken Willhoite, the fire may have started on the porch and spread to the inside through the soffit vents. At this time the investigation is being handed over to Claremore Fire Marshall Jason Crandall to determine the exact cause.