Firefighter injured, cat revived, after Murrieta house fire

MURRIETA — A fire at a home on Murrieta’s east end led to the dramatic rescue and revival of a cat found unresponsive in the charred rubble of the heavily damaged residence last night, Friday, Dec. 20. The destructive blaze erupted at a home in the 29000 block of Eagle Dr., near Winchester and Hunter roads. A firefighter reportedly sustained injuries while battling the fire, but his injuries were considered minor, according to sources.


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City of Murrieta Fire and Police Departments, along with Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire and other emergency personnel, were alerted to reports of a structure fire just before 7:30 p.m. 911 callers reported flames and smoke billowing from the home’s garage, but could not specify if the homeowners had made it safely from the burning residence.

Firefighters quickly knocked down a residential blaze and managed to revive a cat found unresponsive in the charred rubble inside the residence. Joe Fanaselle photo

Cal Fire’s Engine 83 was first to arrive at the scene and quickly confirmed finding a working fire at a two-story home, with heavy fire showing from the garage and threatening to spread into the living quarters of the residence.

Firefighters mounted an aggressive attack on the blaze from the ground and the home’s roof, which they managed to knock down about 40 minutes after the blaze was first reported. By 8:10 p.m., firefighters updated they had extinguished the blaze, which caused extensive damage to the home’s garage.

While checking the home for potential victims, firefighters located a cat that was unresponsive and no longer breathing.

Firefighters rushed the cat from the house and immediately began life-saving efforts, using a specialized oxygen mask designed just for animals. The special animal rescue equipment had been donated to the department back in 2012 by California Veterinary Specialists. The masks, designed for animals and small pet use, have been used several times in animal rescues since their donation to the department.

After several tense and dramatic minutes, the cat began to be revived and was soon breathing on its own again. After being checked out, the cat was later returned to its grateful owners, who were not at home when the fire broke out.

Sources from the scene later said one firefighter received minor but unspecified injuries while battling the blaze. However, the full nature and extent of the official’s injuries were not known as of this report and it was not known if the firefighter’s injuries required medical treatment or hospitalization.

Firefighters use specialized equipment to revive a cat, found unresponsive inside the fire-damaged home. Joe Fanaselle photo

The home’s garage was destroyed and at least one vehicle parked in the driveway was damaged from the flames’ intense heat. Other parts of the home were damaged by fire and smoke; however it was not immediately known if the home was left uninhabitable by the blaze.

Officials are still working to determine the cause of the blaze and their investigation is ongoing.

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Joe Fanaselle photos

Contact the writer:

Trevor Montgomery, 47, moved last year to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations; including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle, and Anza Valley Outlook; as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back, and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations; including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center, and Lake Elsinore Station; along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team, and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 28 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” includes 13 children and 15 – but soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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