Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan told reporters in a press briefing on Sunday that by the time fire crews responses to 911 calls, the smoke at the Ponderosa Pet Resort had made it impossible for any animals to be rescued.
“It was a quick response,” Sullivan said. “Unfortunately, they were met with conditions that are our worst possible scenario and that was heavy smoke and fire involvement.”
“This was not occupied by any humans but nonetheless it was by 75 pets and by no indication do I want to lead anyone to believe that that is any less tragic, it is extremely heart-wrenching for us as first responders,” he continued.
Sullivan said that the cause of the blaze is currently under investigation, noting that he believes many of the dogs likely died from smoke inhalation.
“My heart just dropped when I got the address and knew exactly what location we were going to because, quite frankly, I view my personal pet as my closest confidant, friend and the one that doesn’t judge,” Sullivan said. “My heart just breaks for the people today.”
“This is a big deal,” he added. “I just wish I could go back in time and make it better.”
Phillip Paris, the owner of Georgetown’s Ponderosa Pet Resort, said in a statement on Monday that he is “emotionally overwhelmed.”
“Fifty-nine families are affected, and their best friends won’t be coming home. As a dog owner, I feel their heartbreak intensely,” he said according to NBC affiliate KXAN of Austin.
The Georgetown Fire Department said that sprinklers are not required at a business of that size in the city, but that the fire code could be changed following Saturday night’s blaze.
A memorial was held on Sunday night for the 75 dogs, with passers by and pet owners leaving photos and flowers at the gates of the Ponderosa Pet Resort.
“[A dog loves] you for every flaw that you have and it doesn’t matter to them. They love without judgement,” Sheridan Doerr, who stopped by the memorial, told FOX 7 Austin.