EATON TWP. — Russ Markel left work from The Chronicle-Telegram a little after 4:30 p.m. Friday when he pulled into his Eaton Estates home to find smoke billowing from the roof.
Markel, who is a single copy manager with the circulation department of the newspaper, is engaged to Nora O’Flanagan, who was inside the home at the time the fire erupted.
Eaton Township fire Capt. Jason Monschein said the 911 call came in at 5:27 p.m. Friday.
Markel said three adults, including himself, and one child live in the home at 12460 Eaton Blvd. No one was injured in the fire. Two vehicles parked outside, near a converted garage, were destroyed by the fire.
Markel, along with neighbor Chris Kelly, rescued as many of the animals as they could — including cats, kittens and one pot-bellied pig named Gertrude.
Three female cats, according to O’Flanagan, gave birth to kittens within the past month.
“I am just frantic,” O’Flanagan said moments before North Ridgeville Fire Department Lt. Rick Knowlton, told her he rescued a female cat and kittens.
After hearing a cat had been rescued along with her kittens, O’Flanagan ran past the firefighters wanting to hold the older cat.
“Where is she?” O’Flanagan asked after checking on the kittens.
O’Flanagan followed Knowlton, who rescued the mom, to a fire tanker where he had put the older cat. As soon as the door opened, the cat crawled into O’Flanagan’s arms.
“Oh, oh,” was the only word O’Flanagan could say to her cat as Knowlton wrapped a towel around the cat.
Monschein isn’t sure what started the fire, but when crews arrived, it was a fully involved fire inside the garage that had been converted into living quarters.
“No one was inside the home,” he said.
Monschein said mutual aid was provided by North Ridgeville, Columbia Township, Grafton Township, Carlisle Township and Grafton Village fire departments
According to the Lorain County Auditor’s website, the home has a total market value of $49,700.