NEW CASTLE, DELAWARE (7/9/2017) Fire broke out at the Brandywine Valley SPCA facility in New Castle early today after a vehicle crashed into the building. The driver, and three cats died and nearly 100 animals were displaced, according to reports.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze and emergency crews, SPCA staff and neighbors moved the animals to safety, the agency said.
Officials have not released the name of the driver but according to WPVI-TV, family members identified her as 33-year-old Latoya Cooper, a mother of five. (A memorial vigil to honor Cooper was later planned for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Brandywine Valley SPCA in New Castle, 600 South St.)
The agency said the two cats needed emergency veterinary care, and one died from its injuries. The other was being treated for burns and smoke inhalation. Two other cats perished in the fire.
The other animals, 36 cats and 62 dogs, were relocated to temporary housing and are being examined by medical personnel.
“We’re heartbroken to have lost these lives tonight,” said Adam Lamb, Brandywine Valley SPCA chief executive officer. “It could have been even worse if not for the amazing work of the first responders and all the neighbors who worked together to get the animals out safely.”
The car crash caused significant damage to the veterinary clinic portion of the building. The shelter portion of the building sustained water and smoke damage. The facility will be closed for an undetermined period of time, pending a building inspection, cleanup and repairs.
Anyone who has been thinking of adopting should visit one of the other Brandywine Valley SPCA locations in Georgetown, Dover or in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Financial donations are also needed to help with the additional cost to care for the animals and the damage to the building, the agency said.