Firefighter helps to save the life of cat caught in middle of large waste fire

A firefighter tackling a huge blaze at a Liverpool warehouse has been praised by the RSPCA after he helped to save the life of a cat who was found badly burned at the incident.

Crews from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service were called to the large fire at a waste disposal site on Foster Street, Kirkdale, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

As crews battled the blaze, Firefighter Stuart Watterson, from Kirkdale’s Blue Watch, spotted the feline lying next to a large waste shredder that had previously been on fire.

He said: “We were moving the shredder – essentially a large skip – out of the way into the bottom of the yard when I spotted the cat. It was curled up on the outside of the shredder which was still really hot. There were plastic bags next to it which had obviously melted as a result of the fire and when I went to inspect the cat, it had burns on its legs and bits of the melted plastic were stuck to it – it wasn’t able to get away on its own because of the plastic bags.”

Stuart managed to rescue the animal – which was also soaking wet – by cutting away at the plastic bags to free it.

“I took the cat over to Kirkdale Community Fire Station, which was just at the back of the fire ground. The cat was shivering so I took a blanket from the rehab unit and wrapped it up in it and placed it in a box and requested the RSPCA’s attendance via our Incident Command Unit.”

Concerned that the cat’s condition was deteriorating, Stuart - who had now come to the end of his shift – placed the cat in a box and into his car and began to drive to the PDSA in Huyton.

Stuart said: “I started the drive to Huyton but then got a call from one of the Firefighters still on scene who said the RSPCA were in attendance, so I turned around and handed the cat over to them.”

Animal Welfare Officer Matthew Brown, from the RSPCA, rushed the distressed cat to Alder Veterinary Hospital where she was treated for her injuries.

She had burns to her body and her legs, as well as singed whiskers.

Despite having to spend time in the Intensive Care Unit, she has now recovered well enough to be taken into RSPCA care and will recuperate at RSPCA’s Salford branch, before she is put up for re-homing.

Matthew, who named the cat ‘Smokie’, said: “When I arrived she was breathing but she was quite unwell and there were obvious burn marks on her body.

“Bits of plastic from the fire had melted onto her body and her whiskers had been scorched off so it was clear she had been in the middle of the blaze – it really is remarkable she survived. The quick-thinking actions of the Firefighter certainly saved her.

“Smokie has done so well in veterinary care that she can now be placed at a branch where she will be made available for adoption.”

Stuart added: “This was a big job and Smokie had obviously been in the middle of the fire – it’s brilliant to hear that she’s made a full recovery.”

At its height, 10 fire engines, two aerial appliances and the high volume pump attended the fire. Crews from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service remained on scene until Tuesday lunchtime, some 56 hours after they were first called. It is believed the fire started accidentally.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care, please visit

For free fire safety advice or to request a home fire safety check, call 0800 731 5958.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service also provides free smoke alarms for Merseyside residents aged 65 or over.