CLIFTON, N.J. (WABC) --A fire destroyed a home in New Jersey Tuesday that housed a pet-sitting facility, killing several animals.
On Tuesday afternoon, the homeowner sat stunned, staring as her home of 35 years burned to the ground. The family was unable to save the 11 dogs and three cats trapped inside.
An animal control officer said it was the worst scene he had seen in 32 years on the job. The animals bodies were all found near doorways as they tried to escape the deadly fire.
No one was home at the time of the fire.
"Not much to say. I'm still in shock," said Joan Maso, the owner. "We lost our pets."
She was at work when the fire started. The pets that died belonged to her as well as others who left them at a pet-sitting service run by her daughter. No people were injured in the fire.
They were able to save just two dogs from the fire.
"We lost our pets, we lost our pets. My daughter risked her life trying to save some of the them but she got two dogs out, but she almost got hurt herself so it's really hard because we care so much for those animals," Joan Maso said.
"They're just wonderful people, they're always there to help," said Ellen Corbo, a neighbor.
The fire was so badly out of control, that firefighters had to retreat as the building started to collapse, said Clifton Fire Department Dep. Chief Norman Tahan.
"Heavy fire drove the guys out, they really couldn't make much of an advancement into the building. They did the best they could and everything like that, but like I said that's when it started rolling and it was going to flash over so we pulled everyone out," Dep. Chief Tahan said.
Tuesday night, the house was boarded up, and Maso's son-in-law, who also lives in the home, said the family is devastated by the loss.
"I sleep with my wife and my daughter and two dogs in the bed and those dogs aren't even my dogs and I sleep with them because I love them," said Tom Kiefer, the owner's son-in-law.
It is unclear what caused the fire.