Cause of Ponderosa Pet Resort Fire still unknown, changes to fire code outlined

Williamson County

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Friday, Georgetown Fire Chief John Sullivan provided an update on the deadly Ponderosa Pet Resort overnight fire from a few weeks ago, noting the cause of the fire was still unknown.

In the press conference, Sullivan discussed the known timeline of the fire, which was believed to have started in the main kennel/boarding area just before 11 p.m. on Sept. 18.

The Sept. 18 fire killed at least 75 pets boarding at the facility, affecting 59 families in total. The resort’s owner said at the time “I feel their heartbreak intensely,” and characterized the fire as “accidental.” At the time, fire officials had not confirmed the cause.

Sullivan said the building material may have contributed to the smoke spread, and there were no supervised smoke or heat detection devices in the facility. There was also no fire suppression system.

Families and community members set up a memorial outside the business on the 2800 block of N. Austin Avenue in Georgetown. Georgetown’s city council also approved funding to build a permanent memorial at the city’s Bark Park.

In the days that followed, owners and the community called for accountability. The pet resort did not have a kennel permit — however, that permit only required it to have adequate space and follow animal health regulations and wouldn’t have made the facility have sprinklers or overnight staffing. The city said it wouldn’t fine Ponderosa Pet Resort, as others in the area are also without a permit, and it said it wanted to focus on education and awareness.

But, it did say it’s working to update city fire codes and expected resolutions to come before city council in the fall. The pet resort’s owner said it will also work to implement measures to prevent incidents like this.

During the briefing on Friday, Sullivan outlined some of those changes. Those actions include:

  • Created definition for “Animal Housing or Care Facilities” with priority inspection to be conducted on annual basis
  • Audit and inspection on all animal care facilities
  • Coordinated investigations with third parties to evaluate findings
  • Basic burn evaluation of construction material (panel and insulation)
  • Attended ICC Code Hearings in Pittsburgh
  • Solicitied community input for code revisions

Georgetown Fire also discussed what would happen next in the investigation, which focused on finding the possible source of the fire and releasing a final report once all information was received.

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