Cats Remain Inside Burned-Out Apts

Demolition scheduled for Monday.

By Barry N. Dima
|  Thursday, Nov 15, 2012  |  Updated 12:50 PM EDT
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Meet City Kitties That Made It Out of the Fire

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Residents Denied Access to Damaged Apartment Building

Residents who were forced out of their home after a fire destroyed their West Philadelphia apartment building are demanding to return to retrieve their belongings before the building is demolished Monday. They have been protesting since.
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Demolition of the Windermere Court Apartments at 48th and Walnut Streets, a 90 unit building, is set to begin Monday morning. On January 10, a five-alarm fire ripped through the four-story apartment building, destroying much of the structure.

But the residents haven’t been allowed back in, as building owners have told residents that the building has been sealed by License and Inspection for demolition.

Aside from the material belongings tenants claim they need to recover, there is a much more personal rescue mission: the many cats still allegedly stranded inside the Windermere.

“My biggest frustration is that we know that there are still pets in there alive,” former Windermere resident Lara Figueroa tells

Since the blaze, pet owners and activists have been struggling to get access to the building and the animals they believe are still inside.

City Kitties, an organization dedicated to helping stray cats in West Philadelphia, has been at the forefront of this effort. They even keep a list of reportedly missing and found cats; eight are still missing, according to the group.

The PSPCA was able to obtain a warrant to enter the Windermere, according to City Kitties, who say they scoured the searchable areas for any remaining animals and placed humane traps around the building.

Progress has been made. Recently, Annie was found and rushed to the vet, where her owner was able to visit her.

On Sunday, another cat was found and rescued. Sadie was found inside of a humane trap placed within the Windermere, uninjured and apparently healthy, according to City Kitties.

The animals endured many nights with below freezing temperatures, little—if any—available food and water, and the perils of a burnt-out building.

In hopes of rescuing the remaining cats, City Kitties has set up a Facebook page, where concerned citizens can congregate.

For the time being, residents and City Kitties have been organizing protests, including one Monday morning meant to prevent the demolition.

Since the fire, the Windermere Apartments have been victim to numerous reported lootings.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

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