ORLANDO, Fla. — Forty-five cats have been rescued from the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando after fire tore through part of the shelter overnight.

At least 13 cats were found dead after the fire, and four are missing. Staff plan to set up traps at the location in the hopes of locating the missing cats, Pet Alliance said on its Facebook page.

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All 26 dogs were saved, authorities said.

Pet Alliance Executive Director Steve Bardy said the fire likely started in the front building at 2727 Conroy Road, by the clinic and near the cat room.

The cats discovered Thursday morning had survived in the burned building for at least 12 hours, and four cats were found Thursday afternoon. Once they were safe, the cats were fed.

Fire crews were called to the shelter just before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and said 50%-75% of the 5,000-square-foot building was damaged. 

"Our first priority was making sure that there were no employees inside — no human life," said Steve Sherrill, battalion chief for Orange County Fire Rescue. "Once we made that determination, then we started making rescues for the animals that were inside. It did get to a point where the fire got so overwhelming that we had to pull crews for a little bit."​

The cats were in a tough spot for crews to reach, Bardy said. 

"We had 35 cats in the catery, and we are going to experience loss of cats, probably between 20 and 30,” Bardy said.


Bardy said the Pet Alliance has transferred the surviving dogs and cats to its Sanford facility for safety.

The fire appears to have started in the front of the building, but the cause remains under investigation.