‘Animals are family, and I feel I let him down’: Residents of Macedon apartment mourn loss of pets

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MACEDON, N.Y. (WHEC) — An apartment building is destroyed after it went up in flames in the Town of Macedon Monday. All six units of the complex are destroyed.

News10NBC’s Jenny Ly spoke with some residents who were home when the fire occurred, and one who was supposed to be home, but as the resident says – it was fate.

Heather Melhorn and her 18-year-old son, Evan, had just recently moved into the first-floor corner apartment, and they were looking forward to spending their first Christmas in their new home. However, that all changed yesterday, in a matter of minutes.

“I walked up in my backyard just in time to watch the firemen smashing my windows with the ax. The roof was already gone,” Melhorn said.

Flames engulfed the side of the complex and she lost everything inside, including her 12-week old kitten, Ginger, she had just picked up two weeks ago. The last time Melhorn saw Ginger was when she kissed the young kitten as she walked out the door. The only thing that was salvaged of Melhorn’s belongings was her car.

“My car was sitting in the parking lot. Thankfully it didn’t get that far, but the fire did get close enough to melt license plate cover off my car,” Melhorn added.

The single mother works the overnight shift at FedEx and says had she not been out of the apartment thanks to the insistence of a good friend, who she called her Guardian Angel. She doesn’t think she would be here today.

“I had decided to go Christmas shopping instead of taking a nap which definitely saved my life, definitely," Melhorn said.

Even after having lost her belongings, the mother says she’s trying to stay positive.

“Anger and frustration is not going to get me anywhere. All I can do is be thankful that my son and I are alive, that I can live to see another day and that {my son} will have another Christmas despite it might not be in our home where we can it to be,” Melhorn said.

Melhorn says time for her and Evan to rise from the ashes.

“Where do you go from here?" Melhorn said. "The only way is up. You build it brick by brick… literally.”

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Like his neighbor whose beloved pet perished, Thomas Eberle lost three cats.

“We were inside watching TV. I went in the kitchen to get ice cream, came back in and I heard people screaming. I initially thought there was some fight,” Eberle said.

Also similar to Melhorn, Eberle lived on the first floor adjacent to where the fire originated.

“I ran outside, looked and there were billowing flames. It was just engulfed, I can’t describe the sound,” he added. “I ran back in, grabbed my girlfriend, my son ran out the doorway and got burned along the way. I grabbed a couple pictures, and as I ran back, the ceiling collapsed. I dove back in. My cat… I couldn’t save him.”

Although Eberle says he can always rebuild, a big part of him is missing.

“Everything I had is gone, I could care less – that’s material things – but animals are family, and I feel I let him down,” Eberle said.

Some of the neighbors are currently staying at a nearby hotel.

On Tuesday, the Palmyra Macedon Intermediate School, which is adjacent to the apartment, closed so that it could air out all the smoke. The school will re-open on Wednesday.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.