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Fires in debris-clogged Riverside home kill 25 dogs

Riverside firefighters responded twice within 12 hours to two separate blazes in a house packed with debris where more than two dozen dogs died of smoke inhalation, authorities said today.

In both blazes, which broke out Tuesday evening and early this morning, firefighters had difficulty entering the single-story home and moving around inside because it was jammed with furniture and boxes filled with clothes and other items.

"They were faced with packrat conditions," said Division Chief John Martinez of the Riverside Fire Department. "It was bulging at the seams with stuff."

The first blaze was reported Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. The fire was apparently sparked by a wiring problem with a fan in the bathroom, Martinez said. The flames damaged the attic and two bedrooms of the home in the 1800 block of Missouri Street near downtown Riverside.

While firefighters were mopping up the blaze, they found 14 dogs in cages in a bedroom. "They were overcome by the smoke," Martinez said.

The second fire, a rekindling of the first blaze, broke out at 4:17 this morning. After knocking down the flames, firefighters discovered 11 more dogs dead from the smoke.

"They were huddled in a back room," Martinez said.

Two firefighters suffered minor eye injuries in each of the blazes.

--Robert J. Lopez

Comments () | Archives (12)

What a horrible way for those poor dogs to die.

This is so horribly sad, I really don't understand why the dogs did not have access to a dog door to go in and out. I mean - 25 dogs - did they just defecate in the house??

How horrible for those animals. What's bizarre about this article is that there is absolutely no mention of the idiotic human beings who presumably own the house and must at least occasionally be there. Were they home when this happened? Did they get out? Not that I care at all about them, after what they caused to happen to the animals. It's hard to tell, but it sounds like their lives were miserable before they died, too.

How did the firefighters not find the 11 remaining dogs? What if there were people in with the dogs? I just don't understand how they weren't found before.

Are the heartless fools who made it impossible [as in CAGES] for the dogs to escape going to be charged with something? I am sick and tired of hearing about cases of animal cruelty. It's about time people started paying for their actions. Shame on the idiots who let those dogs die.

How about murder charges.!!!..I surely hope the last group of dogs didn't suffer even more between fires..Why was the whole house not checked after the first fire...??? Secure the area was always a good motto for a reason!!!!!

That's just pathetic that the firefighters didn't hear the other 11 dogs and remove them after the first fire. Also pathetic that they didn't put it out completely, and it sparked up again. That was a waste of lives and unnecessary cruelty. This is exactly why there needs to be a limit on how many pets / household. Anybody who needs to have 25 dogs is suffering from some kind of illness and probably shouldn't even have one.

They missed the other 11 dogs the first time around? How could that be? Seems that if they'd thoroughly searched the first time they'd have found them. What if a person had been "huddled in a back room"? Should this "oversight" be overlooked simply because the lives lost were those of dogs?

One would hope our beloved firefighters would be more thorough before proclaiming victory. Dogs were overlooked this time. Next time it might be your loved one.


This is so heartbreaking! The city needs to enforce dog licenses either at point of sale or adoption (beyond that, I guess it's kind of hard) and limit the number of pets an owner can accommodate. Why so many pets? Why kept in cages? What on earth has happened to a personal sense of responsibility? I feel so bad for those poor animals.

what happens when obvious hoarders are responsible for the deaths of helpless animals? are they charged with animal cruelty? they should be charged to enlighten the public of how their lifestyle can be dangerous to others around them. when it's a mental condition i don't know what the answer is.

i just can't get past the last sentence about how the dogs were huddled in a backroom. how awful. i hope they didn't suffer too much.

This should be a reminder that packrats will be exposed. Keep in mind that those who really have something to hide rarely store the incriminating evidence. What turns otherwise normal persons into packrats? Is there anything we can do to prevent veterinary disasters such as this?

I can't believe that no one noticed 11 dogs huddled together in a room. I don't understand why some people feel they need so many animals or belongings. Hording is a terrible disease and should be treated as such. Often hording is a precruser for more serious mental health issuses.


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