Firefighters rescue, resuscitate dog from Oak Park house fire

Blaze in house with many pets leaves two kittens dead; no people injured

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

A full-grown mastiff, weighing well over 100 pounds, named Romulus, along with several other smaller pets, was rescued by firefighters responding Sunday evening to a house fire at 214 Pleasant St., according to the Oak Park Fire Department.

No people were injured in the fire, but two kittens died in the blaze as a result of smoke inhalation, according to Deputy Fire Chief Peter Pilafas. Other animals rescued from the building included a hedgehog, several turtles and fish, Pilafas said.

Pilafas said the fire department was called out at about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. He declined to discuss the potential cause of the fire, noting that it still is under investigation by the fire department. No foul play is suspected.

The fire, which caused significant damage to the house, was extinguished in about half an hour. It did not spread to an adjacent home to the east or an apartment building to the west, Pilafas said.

Pilafas said the owners of the two-story stucco home were out of state during the incident but were in constant contact with the fire department throughout the incident.

Firefighters returned early Monday morning around 7 a.m. to extinguish some smoldering within the house, according to neighbors.

Lori Yoder, a resident of the apartment building to the west, said she witnessed thick black smoke pouring out of the top of the building Sunday evening around dusk.

She said firefighters carried the mastiff, Romulus, out of the building and resuscitated the dog with an oxygen tank made specifically for pets. Pilafas said the tanks were donated to the fire department within the last couple of years by a local animal care organization.

"They had a K-9 mask and were giving the dog oxygen," according to Yoder. "[Romulus] looked like he was passed out."

Yoder described the scene as moving, so she pulled out her iPhone and took a photo. "It was amazing; I've never seen that before," she said.

A neighbor, who declined to identify herself, said Romulus is recovering under the care of a local veterinarian. She said the vet believes the dog may have inhaled airborne particulate plastic as a result of the fire.

She said neighbors are helping to care for the other animals until the owners of the home return to Oak Park. They are expected to return today, according to officials.

Jim Brucker, the next-door-neighbor to the east of the building, said the fire did not spread to his building, but firefighters told him and his family to vacate the building while they doused the flames. He said they returned Monday morning for about an hour.

The fire department said stucco homes are better at containing house fires, Brucker said.


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Reader Comments

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Cristina LoCelso from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 2nd, 2015 5:37 AM

I own & operate a PetSitting service here in Oak Park so after hearing about this I wondered if the family had left their animals in the care of a Petsitter or who was looking after the animals & house? RIP baby kittens. God bless the firefighters.

Talia Simon from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 1st, 2015 7:23 AM

Thank you Oak Park Firefighters!

Marie Perkins from Oak Park  

Posted: March 31st, 2015 4:14 PM

I am so proud of our firefighter's and what they did for this dog and all the other animal companions. It's heartbreaking about the kittens but I'm so grateful for the animals that they saved. The way that they stayed with that dog until he was revived just shows you how dedicated and compassionate they truly are. Heartfelt thanks to all the firefighter's involved.

Alex Garcia from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: March 31st, 2015 1:43 PM

Very moving video. God bless the firefighters and that dog.

Amy Srodon Williams from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 30th, 2015 7:50 PM

This is amazing! These firefighters are awesome and we are so lucky to have them here for us! I don't know if they are required to resuscitate animals like this, but I am so grateful that they did - if you watch the whole video you'd have to be a Grinch not to get teary-eyed they way they take care of the dog. Looks like OP, RF, and FP firefighters were all involved - bravo to you all!

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