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Star Prairie fire damages home, kills cats

A fire in Star Prairie Township damaged a home and claimed the lives of several house pets on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

New Richmond Fire and Rescue crew members were called to the scene of the fire at 1918 County Road CC at about 6 a.m., said Jim VanderWyst, New Richmond fire chief.

According to property records, the home is owned by William and Rebecca Shalla.

The fire began in the laundry room and spread into part of the kitchen, VanderWyst said.

"The occupant was able to leave the house, but it's my understanding there were several cats in the house," he said.

Paramedics on scene were able to save a few of the cats, said Matt Melby, director of New Richmond Area Ambulance Service.

"Some of our paramedics have been through what's called BART training," he said.

BART (Basic Animal Rescue Training) is not something that paramedics are required to take.

"It's not something we've had to do very often, but I'd like to think any one of our paramedics, whether they had the training or not, would have tried to save those animals," he said.

While the fire was contained to the laundry and kitchen area, VanderWyst said the rest of the home was "inundated with smoke."

It's unclear what started the fire, VanderWyst said. The homeowner's insurance company is in the process of completing an investigation.

Crews were on scene until about 7:30 a.m.