Man dies in Herndon fire; cats survive (Video)

WASHINGTON – A man died in a Herndon, Va., garage fire Wednesday night, but dozens of cats in the home survived, according to Fairfax County Fire and Rescue.

A woman who lives in the single-family home in the 12800 block of Willow Glen Court called police at 10:55 p.m. and reported her garage attached to her home was on fire and her husband was inside the garage.

Deputy Fire Chief Mike Reilly says the woman heard a loud explosion in the garage where her husband was working.

“She opened the garage, was faced with a large volume of fire in the garage. She closed the door, dialed 911 and then she evacuated the building,” Reilly says.

When firefighters arrived, they found the garage on fire and the fire shooting 15 feet out the garage door, Reilly says.

Reilly says neighbors reported hearing “several loud explosions.” He says the explosions could have been items in the packed garage, such as propane tanks, aerosol cans, chemicals and gasoline tanks.

It took firefighters about 10 minutes to put out the fire. Firefighters then found the body of a man. His identity has not been released.

Reilly says a medical examiner will determine the man’s identity and cause of death but acknowledges the woman’s “husband is missing.”

“The fire managed to start getting into the second story of the building. The garage itself collapsed from the roof on down,” he says.

Damage is estimated at $175,000. The incident remains under investigation.

One firefighters sustained a non-life-threatening injury.

The woman who called in the fire was treated at the scene. She is a breeder of Himalayan cats.

There were 37 cats in the home at the time of the fire. Firefighters and animal control officers rescued 25 of the 37 from the home.

“Many of the cats — at least the ones we’ve recovered — are all alive. A little bit shock-y because of all of the smoke,” Reilly says.

A search Thursday morning was underway in the neighborhood for the rest of the cats.

Reilly says this is not a case of hoarding.

“For the most part, the house is well-kept,” he says.

See video WTOP’s Kristi King shot of some of the cats captured after the fire:

Herndon fatal fire Willow Glen Court (WTOP/Kristi King)

The fire was reported at 10:55 p.m. Wednesday, and firefighters were on the scene at 11 p.m. (WTOP/Kristi King)


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WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this story. Follow @kingWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.