Count two furry felines among the lives saved after a sprawling 10-alarm fire in Cambridge destroyed multiple homes Saturday.
Lieutenant Brian Casey of the Cambridge Fire Department’s Engine Nine company reunited Cambridge resident Christina Jeffrey with her two cats, 10-year-old brothers named Mac and Cheese, after finding them in the vestiges of a first-floor apartment on Berkshire Street the morning after the blaze. The heartwarming moment was captured on camera and has now captured the hearts of tens of thousands.
Casey had been monitoring any residual fires on Berkshire Street Sunday when he was approached by a resident and her mother asking about two cats that were in an apartment at the time of the blaze.
According to Casey, firefighters entered the home where the cats lived, albeit with little hope.
“We were looking for the cats, but not expecting to find the cats,” Casey said. “Or if we did, not to find them in the greatest of situations.”
Found huddled up in a bedroom closet near the back of the home, Casey saw that the pets were alive.
“They seemed petrified,” Casey said. “They were huddling and meowing and came with me very willingly.”
Scooping up one feline in his arms and heading outside, Casey was almost a block away from the women when he heard screams of joy. He told the owner that both of the animals were all right and returned to the apartment for the second one. Jeffrey and her mother, overjoyed, kissed Casey on the cheek and thanked him.
“It made me feel really good,” said Casey. “I’m not really an animal person myself, I don’t own any animals, but I understand people do love their pets and animals in general, and I was happy that I could do that for them.”
Casey said he was surprised to find the felines in good shape, as heavy smoke had enveloped the area during and after the blaze.
“Some people lost everything they had,” Casey said. “It made me feel good that we could reunite people with some pets they thought they might have lost.”
Jeffrey told the Globe that she spent the night of the fire worried about the safety of her neighbors and not knowing what became of her pets.
But ultimately, despite the extensive damage to her home, “they didn’t have a burn on their bodies,” she said. “Nobody really understands how.”
The exchange between Casey and Jeffrey was filmed by a neighbor, Justin Khoo, who told the Globe he was filming the aftermath of the fire when he caught the scene.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Khoo’s video had more than 47,000 views on YouTube — nearly double than the 25,000 views it had Tuesday night.
Both Khoo and Jeffrey, who did not know each other before the blaze, expressed hope that the heartwarming video would bring attention to fund-raising efforts for their neighbors.
“I just want to do whatever I can for them,” Jeffrey said.
Although her home is slated to be demolished, Jeffrey hopes to move back to the area, in large part because of her neighbors and the community she’s found there.
She also said she’s been in touch with Casey to thank him and the Cambridge Fire Department for doing what they could to keep her neighbors safe.
“It’s miraculous that no people were hurt,” she said.