A fire caused severe damage to a Lancaster city animal shelter Tuesday afternoon, resulting in at least one cat’s death.

The fire, at the Organization for Responsible Care of Animals on the 400 block of East Orange Street near Musser Park, damaged the second floor of the building, Lancaster City Bureau of Fire Chief Scott Little said. The rest of the building sustained smoke damage.

Jasmin Null-Brandt was working inside the building and was on the phone with her boss ORCA Director Connie Kondravy when she saw smoke outside of the rescue’s windows.

“I opened up the door to the apartments upstairs, where there’s two cats, and you couldn’t even see up the stairs,” Null-Brandt said. “It was just filled with smoke.”

On the other end of the line, Kondravy said all she could hear was screams of “Connie, there’s a fire!” Kondravy immediately hung up and called the fire department.

Meanwhile, the neighbors stepped in.

Lucas Geiger was at a laundromat down the street when he saw smoke from the top two floors. When another neighbor took initiative and started grabbing animals from inside the building, Geiger said he joined.

“I live right here, so I know the animals are in there,” he said. “So we ran and we grabbed as many animals within sight on the first floor as we could. We kept going back in until we couldn’t see any more animals.”

According to Null-Brandt, there were 17 animals in the building at the time of the fire, 13 were recovered by the organization immediately. One cat, named Nick, was confirmed dead by firefighters.

“No animals will be returned to the shelter tonight or anytime soon until the building is repaired,” Null-Brandt said. “They're all in fosters for now."

“We were handing animals off; the neighbors were out and they were gladly taking them,” Geiger said. “It was a sight to see for a little while; everyone had animals in their hands.”

Crews were dispatched to the fire around 2:54 p.m. The fire was knocked down shortly after.

Crews were still on the scene Tuesday evening to assist with overhaul. City fire marshals will conduct an investigation on the cause of the fire.

No people were injured in the fire.

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