[Vision2020] It may not be Caturday, but . . .

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Feb 18 04:55:02 PST 2016

Courtesy of today's (February 18, 2016) Spokesman-Review.

Heart of a lion: Cat survives laundromat fire

Hours after everyone else rushed from the burning laundromat, Baby Girl, the beloved resident tabby, emerged unscathed.

In the most practical sense her survival can be attributed to the fire’s location – the attic – and firefighting efforts that prevented the entire roof from collapsing. But Baby Girl seems to have a knack for survival.

“We think she’s on the second round (of lives). She’s very blessed,” said Aurellia Richey, an employee at Hamilton Street Wash & Dry where the fire started Friday evening.

Baby Girl is an American shorthair who has been a fixture of the Gonzaga-area laundromat for about 10 years. She showed up one day at 1725 N. Hamilton St. after a Gonzaga student who lived across the street abandoned her, said employee Nacole Sells. 

“She kind of rules the roost,” Richey said. 

Richey, who has worked at the laundromat since 2007, said she first mistook the flames for police lights. When she stepped out of the building to see what was going on she realized her mistake.

“Sure enough our dumpster was on fire and the back of our building was totally engulfed,” Richey said. “I just wanted to make sure everybody got out.”

In the rush to evacuate the people in the building, Richey forgot to round up Baby Girl. For a few tense hours, as firefighters continued to fight the blaze, the cat’s fate was unknown.

“I’ve had people call me and yell at me for not getting the cat out,” Richey said.

Firefighters entered the building around midnight and found Baby Girl behind the back counter.

This isn’t Baby Girl’s first brush with mortality. In the winter of 2008 as dogs chased her through the streets, Baby Girl tried to find refuge on top of a power pole. Unfortunately, she was shocked and fell to the ground.

“She landed on her feet,” Sells said.

After that narrow escape, Richey said the cat holed up in the back room of the laundromat for four or five days. When she emerged she was sore, with a hernia on her belly, but otherwise unscathed. 

Since then Baby Girl has spent most of her time in the laundromat. She avoids children, Richey said, mostly because kids have dragged her by her tail, put her in dryers and generally harassed her. 

Yet customers are used to seeing her in the building and she’s friendly, unless provoked. A veterinarian checks on her twice a year.

Now, as owner Clark Kelsey, who also owns Clarks Cleaners, rebuilds, Baby Girl is living with Sells and her husband. 

The fire started around 8 p.m. Friday in the dumpster, Battalion Chief Craig Cornelius said. Firefighters initially got on the building’s roof in an attempt to vent the fire, while other crews went inside the building. Cornelius pulled his crews out because it was too dangerous, but firefighters dug a “trench” in the roof, which helped isolate the burn. It quite possibly kept the roof from collapsing onto Baby Girl.

The fire department is investigating the fire as suspicious. 

Kelsey, the owner, said the building isn’t a total loss. The fire never spread from the attic to the main floor, although about half of the building’s roof collapsed. 

The business has 60 washers and 30 dryers and was opened in 1986. 

“It is horrible, but it actually looks worse than what the contractors tell me,” Kelsey said. “It’s rebuildable.”

And while Kelsey rebuilds, Baby Girl will be waiting.

“As soon as they say she’s safe to go back, she’s back there,” Sells said, adding, “She’s irritated that she’s not at the laundromat.”

-------------------- Photos . . .

Spokane firefighters battle a structure fire at the Wash & Dry laundromat at 1725 N. Hamilton St. on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. 



The cat, Baby Girl, has used up a few of her lives after escaping the fire that destroyed the Wash & Dry building on North Hamilton Street last Friday night. 



Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"There's room at the top they are telling you still.
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
If you want to be like the folks on the hill."

- John Lennon
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