The Red Wing Solid Waste Campus on Bench Street sustained significant damage due to a fire Wednesday night, June 7, according to Red Wing Fire Department. The blaze was reported around 7:45 p.m. from inside the facility.
Knowing their coworkers were safe, the solid waste campus staffs' worries were not over.
Their No. 1 concern was Sasha, the waste campus' resident cat, and her five new kittens.
"It took about an hour or so before firefighters were able to get into where the cats were," said Peggy Rehder, Red Wing City Council member and solid waste committee member.
Firefighters administered oxygen to Sasha on the scene.
"They found four kittens, but had a little trouble finding the fifth," Rehder said. "Thankfully they found him."
Rehder went to the waste campus on Thursday to see the damage and visited with Jeff Schneider, deputy director of the waste campus.
"Two of the kittens were in worse shape than the others," Rehder said.
She called Dr. Darlene Cook at The Bluffs Pet Clinic.
"We treated the two kittens for smoke inhalation with oxygen," Cook said.
She and staff have taken fondly to the kittens, naming them Fire and Smokey.
"They are so well-socialized, they must have been getting wonderful attention from the workers," Cook said. "We'll continue to treat them and keep them here until they are ready to be adopted."
To follow the kittens' progress, Cook said to watch the pet clinic's Facebook page.
Sasha's three other kittens have all been adopted since the fire.
"Everyone has been so concerned about Sasha and her kittens — it's pretty heartwarming," Rehder said.
Schneider and staff are hoping Sasha can soon find a forever home, advising anyone interested in adopting her to contact them at 651-385-3672.
According to the Red Wing Fire Department, the building crews encountered heavy fire condition in the tipping room area upon entering. Due to the amount of material and equipment in the building, the fire quickly grew and eventually involved 40 percent of the 36,000-square-foot building. The fire was declared under control at 10:30 p.m. Crews remained on scene working to overhaul the large building, looking for hot spots and putting out small fires until 1:10 a.m.
The building sustained major damage and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Ellsworth Fire, Cannon Falls Fire, Zumbrota Ambulance, Lake City Fire, Goodhue Fire and Red Wing Police departments assisted during the fire, totaling close to 70 firefighters on the scene.