Georgetown fire department says it will review code after deadly pet resort blaze

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GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — The owner of the Ponderosa Pet Resort in Georgetown is offering his condolences after at least 75 animals were killed in a fire at the facility over the weekend.

“I am emotionally overwhelmed by the accidental fire on Saturday night at our business,” Phillip Paris said in his Monday statement. “Fifty-nine families are affected and their best friends won’t be coming home. As a dog owner, I feel their heartbreak intensely.”

The deadly fire at the Williamson County pet facility happened at around 11 p.m. Sept. 18, when fire crews say they arrived to find “the worst possible” conditions of flames and smoke. Georgetown Fire Department says the animals likely died from smoke inhalation.

Paris says the fire was “100% accidental” and that he’s working with a local veterinarian to make sure families get their pets’ remains however they wish.

Paris added in his statement:

We are working through the fog of our own grief, but we know each family is pained more than we are. It is soul-wrenching to lose a friend suddenly and without warning. I realize this, and grieve for each life lost, and the families disrupted by this tragedy.”

Phillip Paris, Ponderosa Pet Resort owner

Georgetown authorities say they’re working to determine the cause of the blaze, though they say there’s no indication the fire was intentionally set.

Paris says Ponderosa Pet Resort will work to find what can be done to prevent incidents like this in the future.

It’s an incident that has other dog owners, like Demeettree Tyler, re-thinking their own checklists.

“If I had to choose a facility, this would definitely raise some questions, you know: Is there someone overnight? Is there a sprinkler system? What are your emergency procedures in situations like this?” she said.

The City of Georgetown says its fire code, as well as federal and state standards, do not require sprinkler systems for a facility of this type and size. But the fire chief says this fire has them reviewing more safeguards for animal care facilities.

“We will be reviewing some amendments with our council later this fall,” Chief John Sullivan said in a recorded statement Monday afternoon.

Sullivan said Ponderosa is considered a low fire risk, and his team last inspected the building in 2015.

Something Tyler also hopes will change.

“Definitely regular inspections yearly should always be– especially for anywhere that’s something overnight,” she said.

Tyler said she has family and friends who watch her pets when she’s gone, but she does know the facility.

“I know this place and I know how well-kept it was and how responsible they were,” she said.

The Georgetown Fire Department also says Ponderosa Pet Resort did not have a required kennel permit, but they said that permit does not have anything to do with safety measures like fire suppression and warning systems.

They also added that they know other businesses are operating without a kennel permit, too — and the city is trying to spread awareness and enforcement about this rule.

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