SIX cats have died in a devastating fire that engulfed a cattery near Cannock this morning.
Several animals fled the blaze, which gutted kennels at the Pinetrees cattery, into the woods of Cannock Chase.
Two have been taken to vets for smoke inhalation and, according to cattery owner Lynn Durnall, at least one looks set to survive.
Four of the dead animals belonged to Ms Durnall, who has run the Huntington kennels for 13 years.
Firefighters declared the blaze accidental – and probably electrical – as Ms Durnall accounted for the cats in her care and contacted owners.
The cattery was housing 20 cats when crews were called out at around 5.30am.
Ms Durnall said: “This is just absolutely devastating for everyone involved with the cattery.
“The only shreds of comfort I can take are that we weren’t particularly busy and at least some of the cats are okay.
“Many of my customers have been contacted with updates about their animals and many, like me, are understandably very distressed.
“It’s taken 13 years to build a reputation that has secured us a lot of regular customers and I hope that allows us to rebuild our business in time.
“It’s just so, so upsetting. I love cats and you really get to know the animals and become close to their owners.
“Several of my regular customers and even other catteries have contacted me with sympathetic messages and I’m deeply grateful for that.”
Dermot Hogan, station manager at Newcastle-under-Lyme, was called out to the scene early this morning.
He said: “Six crews were called out and there was a fire in the cattery building, which is about 40m by 15m.
“It was extinguished and investigations immediately took place to establish the number of cats in the building.
“The occupants were extremely distressed but have still done everything in their power to contact the owners of the animals involved.
“The fire was certainly accidental and we believe it may have been electrical.”