Leander Fire Dept. helps rescue cats in midst of '8 lightning-related calls'


The storm system that rolled through Central Texas Monday afternoon took a toll on houses and put a strain on local fire departments.

On Paden Circle in Cedar Park, lightning struck the roof.  Fire did significant damage to the home.  A young girl and her grandmother were fortunately able to get to safety.

And in Leander, firefighter Lt. Tony Anguiano was monitoring the weather.

"Very quickly everything started escalating over the west side of the county," he said.

Anguiano responded to a house fire on Lookout Range.

"We put up our ladder and started a defensive fire attack and that's when the homeowners said there were kittens inside," Anguiano said.

Anguiano said once crews were able to safely go in, a firefighter from a different department found a little white kitten.  Anguiano used pet masks donated to Leander by the Central Texas SPCA to help give the kitten oxygen.

"We rinsed it off and gave it some air, wrapped it up in a nice towel so it wouldn't be so cold," he said.

Later Anguiano found the second cat in the master bedroom.  A GoFundMe page has been started for the homeowner, a single mother of twin girls. 

Fox 7 spoke with the homeowner by phone.  She said her kittens Rainbow Cupcake and Buttersworth are recovering.  Anguiano said she was grateful  that  firefighters could help.

"I gotta say it's pretty neat that someone took the time to design something specifically for animals," Anguiano said.

Leander Fire Chief Bill Gardner said the department responded to eight calls Monday afternoon.

"All of these calls occurred in about a 30-minute time frame," Gardner said.

He said five ended up being structure fires.

"I'm comfortable saying from all the preliminary reviews that it was lightning-related," he said.

Gardner said surrounding fire departments came together to help.

"From the City of Austin coming to assist us, all of Williamson County, parts of Travis County coming to assist us.  The resources were impacted because all of them happened so quickly," he said.

Gardner said when it comes to acts of God; there isn't much a homeowner can do.  Just be prepared.

"Have an evacuation plan.  Have a meeting place.  Make sure that you're safely able to get your pets and yourself out," Gardner said.

We asked Gardner if lightning is a problem in the Leander area.  He said historical data from the past 15 year’s show no abnormalities when it comes to that.  He said it's just different weather patterns.

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