House fire leaves 32 cats dead, charges probable | News
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - A house fire left 32 cats dead and 7 more injured in Hot Springs and now authorities are looking for answers as to what happened.
The Garland County Sheriff's Office is investigating the fire and the person involved is an employee of the sheriff's department.
The charges being considered are cruelty to animals or animal neglect.
"Cat feces was piled a foot to two feet deep in places. It was actually coming down from the ceiling," says Chuck Smith, a neighbor from the area.
The smell from around 50 cats will no longer plague Chuck Smith. Smith lives just down the road from the tattered house on Northgate Street in Garland County where a fire claimed more than 30 cats.
Smith says he's asked for a solution to the cat infested house for three years with no help from authorities.
'When we tried to get anybody to do anything about it, nobody wanted to take action," says Smith.
After a follow up call from the Health Department, Hot Springs Animal Services took action. On September 14th, they reached the owner to implore a prompt cleanup. No clean up took place, but three days later a house fire.
"What we do know is the fire is not suspicious in nature. The fire department seems to feel that it either came from a water heater or a breaker panel area of the house. It appears to be electrical and no foul play is expected," says Lieutenant James Martin with the Garland County Sheriff's Department.
Neighbors hope the house will be condemned and demolished, but until a decision is made...they remain cautious.
"And now we're all very concerned that it's going to be a health hazard, more than it has been. The doors are open to the place. Animals can get in and out of it now," says Smith.
The sheriff's department employee is suspended with pay until the investigation concludes.