MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. -- Dozens of cats and dogs were killed in an overnight fire at a Merritt Island home, in what neighbors describe as a frantic effort to save several of the animals.
The fast moving fire was reported about 3 a.m. Wednesday at a single story, concrete block home in the 400 block of Kennwood avenue in Merritt Island.
"It was sad... the paramedics were passing off dogs and cats to different neighbors. They were giving oxygen and I saw one first responder giving mouth to mouth," said Susan Graham, a resident of the neighborhood.
The two residents who were inside the home at the time were not injured. The fire was concentrated in a back bedroom, authorities said.
A short time after the blaze was contained, firefighters made the grim discovery of dozens of dead animals.
Ultimately, 45 cats, 5 dogs, a macaw and a pet raccoon perished in the fire, officials said. One cat and 13 dogs were rescued.
Fire officials said efforts to stop the fire were hampered by boarded up windows and the pets inside. The home is also surrounded by a wooden fence.
The extent of damage to the home was not immediately known.
Fire investigators were at the home, along with agents from Brevard County sheriff's Animal Services unit. Several animal services trucks were at the site. The surviving animals were taken to a local animal shelter for veterinary evaluation.
The Red Cross has also been called to assist the family.
Investigators said the investigation will be handled as criminal case.