For Lorraine and Robert Monfils, the flowers, visits, and messages of sympathy have been nonstop all day. This after an early morning fire tore through their beloved Ark Animal Sanctuary, taking the lives of sixteen cats.
“We’re all just devastated and we’re trying to wrap our minds around this whole thing and try to figure out where we go from here,” said Ark Animal Sanctuary president Lorraine Monfils.
A border patrol agent noticed the fire just after three on Wednesday morning and sent word to the Houlton Fire Department. Though the animal sanctuary has been around for a while, the building was opened just months ago. Community members can’t believe that it’s now a pile of rubble, and that so many cats perished.
“It’s horrible, I mean it would just tear your heart to lose that many animals,” said Cyndi Scott of Hodgdon.
Houlton fire Chief Milton Cone says because of the extensive damage that was done, they may never know what caused such a tragic fire.
He says it could have been electrical, it could have been the wood pellet stove, or the oil furnace – all he knows for sure is when border patrol agent saw it, it was concentrated in the center of the building.
“I’m sure that would add to some closure for the homeowners there but its something that we’re not going to be able to find out,” said Cone.
For now, the Monfils and the sanctuary’s volunteers will remember the cats by a shrine they’ve started to put together at the Hollywood Pet Salon. Each balloon has a cat’s name written on it, and they’re getting pictures of each cat to go underneath.
“Each cat has their own story, their own personality, the volunteers just bonded with them, they were wonderful cats and I would just ask everybody in the community, if you own a pet, go home, give it a kiss, give it a hug, love it, in memory of the 16 cats that perished in this fire this morning,” said Monfils.
Though at this point they don’t know what the next steps are, the Monfils say they’re going to continue their work saving animals lives, one way or another.
70 Main St., Houlton ME 04370