Cat Alerts Iowa Family to Fire Started by Goat

Jan. 14, 2009
Firefighters believe a goat kick started a fire that destroyed a home in Warren County on Tuesday.


Firefighters believe a goat kick started a fire that destroyed a home in Warren County on Tuesday.

Three people were asleep when smoke began filling Jim and Kristi Giles' home in Warren County, between Norwalk and Indianola.

"My cat woke me up and I saw smoke coming out of my fan," said John Hadley. "My first concern was getting my mom out of the house. Because, like I said, my mom is real ill. And so that's what I did. I made sure I got her out and then I know she loves her animals, so I rounded all her animals up, and by that point, flames and smoke were everywhere."

The fire continued to rage and had nearly eaten the entire roof by the time firefighters made it to the home.

Three departments tried to fight the fire in temperatures below zero.

"It's hard on the men and it's hard on the equipment," said Kevin Dingman, Assistant Northern Warren County Fire Chief.

Firefighters had to use tanker trucks to haul in water from several miles away. They said their fight to save the house was a lost battle almost as soon as they arrived.

"Once it's fully involved like this, then it's not worth sending your fellow firefighters in for something like this. I mean the house was fully involved, and it's too dangerous to send anybody in," said Dingman.

Firefighters think the fire may have been started by one of two goats. The family kept the goats inside a shed that was attached to the rear of the house.

"They put a space heater in there for the goats to stay warm. The goats knocked it over, causing a fire," said Dingman.

The goats were rescued, and so was a family dog.

The cat that warned the family of the fire is still missing, but is believed to be safe. No one was hurt in the fire.

"The animals and the people were the most important thing," John Hadley said.

The fire department called in the Red Cross to help the family, which doesn't have insurance. A relative told KCCI-TV that a fund has been established through any Bank of the West branch to help Jim and Kristi Giles.

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