At least 75 dogs were killed in a fire which swept across a pet resort.
Firefighters rushed to Ponderosa Pet Resort in Austin, Texas in under five minutes but they were too late to save any of the dogs.
The building was already inundated with smoke and they found all 75 animals who were staying at the resort had been killed.
Fire Chief John Sullivan said the building was not required to have fire alarms or sprinkler systems.
During a press briefing, he said: “My heart just dropped when I got the address and knew exactly what location we were going to.”
He explained the pets had gone to sleep as carbon monoxide seeped into their cages and the animals had died of smoke inhalation rather than suffering direct burns.
Tributes for the pooches have been left on the fence outside Ponderosa Pet Resort.
Manager Philip Pans has begun to try return the bodies of the dogs to their owners.
My beautiful babies were taken last night by a fire at the ponderosa pet resort in Georgetown. My family is completely heartbroken and will never be the same. I feel like I’m a nightmare and can’t wake up. I love you forever my sweet angels… I’m so sorry 💔 pic.twitter.com/u2nK3uKroo
— ca$h (@LovelaceAshlyn) September 19, 2021
Mr Pans said he believed the fire, reported at about 11pm on Saturday, had been “accidental”.
In a statement, he said: “We are working through the fog of our own grief, but we know each family is pained more than we are.
“It is soul-wrenching to lose a friend suddenly and without warning.”
Investigators have been working to find the cause of the fire and if any alarms or other fire suppression measures were in use.
“We’re looking at all leads possible so that when we look these homeowners back in the eye, the property owners, those that lost family members, we can tell them conclusively what happened,” Chief Sullivan said.
“But then more importantly not just what happened, this is where together we can try to figure out how we can prevent something like this from happening again in the future.
“We know each dog that died in this fire was a cherished member of someone’s family, so our heart goes out to all those who were affected by this tragic fire.
“We are working as quickly as we can to conclude the investigation so pets can be returned to their grieving family members as soon as possible.”