MUNSTER | After a fire late Tuesday, half of the animals of the Humane Society Calumet Area — an estimated 175 — remain displaced.
Roughly 40 cats and dogs are being treated for smoke inhalation at the clinic which is part of the humane society operation, Executive Director Rachel Delaney said. All animals are in stable condition and there have been no injuries.
"It could've turned into a grave situation quickly," Delaney said. "We're very fortunate that it didn't. We take every safety precaution possible, that's why I'm very surprised this happened."
Munster Fire Department firefighters were on the scene at 10:45 p.m. after the fire alarm sounded at 421 45th Ave. Dave Pelc, battalion chief, said they extinguished the fire in about five minutes.
The fire damaged two laundry rooms, destroying appliances and causing the shelter to lose the bulk of its blankets and towels. Pelc said it was determined the fire started in the clean linen storage room.
Firefighters worked until 3:30 a.m. without finding the fire's cause. Crews from Lansing, Highland and Dyer assisted them.
Delaney said the animals exposed to the most smoke were in the intake room, where sick animals and new arrivals are kept. The animals are currently undergoing nebulizer treatments.
The displaced animals are in the fenced outside play areas, in the adjoined clinic and in pet carriers throughout the shelter, which houses 350 cats, dogs, rats, rabbits and birds.
"They did great, it was like the animals knew what to do in emergencies," Delaney said.
In response to the fire, several people have been donating supplies to the shelter Wednesday. Blankets, towels, rugs, toys and cat litter pans were among the things destroyed by the fire.
"We have 14 tables overflowing with donations so far," Peggy Franiak, a humane society volunteer, said. "It's just unbelievable. it's amazing how much the community cares."
Delaney said the shelter is closed today and most likely will be open on Friday.