By CBSMiami.com Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – At least 20 cats were killed when a fire erupted at the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando late Wednesday night.

The center’s executive director, Steve Bardy, called the fire his “worst nightmare.”

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When Orange County firefighters arrived, they found flames shooting “through the roof.”

Bardy said that rescue crews were able to safely evacuate all 25 dogs. They were further away from the fire’s point of origin, he said.

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“It appears the fire started in the front building by the clinic, which made it more difficult for fire rescue to go into the adjacent cat room,” Bardy said. “If you run a shelter, this is literally your worst nightmare — to see your building on fire and know that there are animals in there that you’re charged to care for and you can’t go in.”

At least half of the building was heavily damaged by the fire. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The dogs and some surviving cats were taken to a Pet Alliance shelter in Sanford.

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Bardy said he wasn’t sure of the exact number of cats in the shelter on Wednesday, but it could have been as many as 35. Ten cats were rescued, but some may not survive, he said.

CBSMiami.com Team