Ann Arbor firefighter describes rescue of 2 cats from burning apartment building
Joe Tobianski | AnnArbor.com
Kyle Feldscher | AnnArbor.com
“Go get the cat.”
If only it had been that easy.
Gravelle, an Ann Arbor firefighter, was climbing a ladder toward a raging fire eating away at the top two floors of a building in the Schooner Cove apartment complex in Ypsilanti Township. By the time Gravelle climbed the ladder toward the second floor of building 5086 at 1:40 p.m. Monday, the fire had destroyed the building’s roof and gutted apartments on the second and third floors.The cat came out relatively easy through a second-floor. Firefighters smashed the window by pushing the top of the ladder against the glass. Gravelle went up and came down a short time later, holding the grateful feline.
“He was just hiding up under the bed and we dragged him out,” Gravelle said.
It was until Gravelle and the other Ann Arbor firefighters assisting him realized there was another cat trapped in the building. They barely had time to rest before a flash in a third-floor window caught the eye of bystanders on the ground.
Susan Elamon screamed and pointed out the black and white cat sitting on the window sill, peering out at the scene below.
“I was freaking, I thought he was going to die,” Elamon said.
Joe Tobianski | AnnArbor.com
Gravelle leaned in, first just poking his head through a slit in the screen. Then, his shoulders went into the room. Then, he leaned his torso through. At this point, one of the Ann Arbor firefighters holding the ladder rushed up to aid him, grabbing Gravelle by the legs and allowing him to reach into the apartment, with just his legs exposed to the cool of the afternoon.
“The fire burned through the ceiling and as far as we could get in was leaning through the window by way of the ladder,” he said. “There was a desk right there and the cat was kind of hiding under the desk.”
“We couldn’t go in because the room was on fire and they were hitting it with the aerials on top and, fortunately, the cat finally realized he wanted to come out.”
Courtney Sacco | AnnArbor.com
Gravelle said the roof started to fall in and a large piece of drywall coming loose and hitting the floor was the last bit of convincing the kitty needed to come into his hands.
Gravelle held the cat in his arms while he came down the ladder, eventually handing it over to Elamon, who wrapped it in a blanket provided by another woman. Elamon took the cat to the leasing office of the complex.
By late Monday evening, all pets were accounted for, said Kelly Gorski, associate director of operations for McKinley, that company that owns the complex.
Speaking to AnnArbor.com about an hour after the rescue, Gravelle shrugged the incident off. The ceiling was collapsing, debris was falling in the room and Gravelle was reaching under a desk to save a cat.
“Yeah," he said. "Nothing major.”
Watch a WXYZ video of the cat rescue below: