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Fire at PAWS of Tinley Park sends 100 animals to Midwest Animal Hospital

More than 100 animals were transported from the south suburban animal shelter People’s Animal Welfare Society of Tinley Park after a fire broke out at about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the laundry room, according to a statement from the shelter.

Volunteers were in the shelter when they started smelling smoke, which led them to a small fire coming from the dryer, PAWS President Terri Buckley said Thursday. The fire was confined to the laundry room and was swiftly extinguished by first responders, but smoke overtook the building forcing officials to take animals to Midwest Animal Hospital in Orland Park to be monitored for smoke inhalation.

“The most damage done is smoke damage,” Buckley said, explaining the integral process Midwest Animal Hospital veterinarians played in ensuring the animals were safe. “We did have about 12 or so cats that needed to be put on oxygen and couple of dogs that were having a few issues from the smoke, but most of them right now are doing very well.”

Buckley said she is not sure when the building will be reopened to the public. The fire caused significant smoke damage and destroyed the recently purchased $10,000 dryer. Buckley also expects to see a large medical bill for all of the animals taken in by Midwest Animal Hospital.

“I would like to sincerely thank the many volunteers who worked in cooperation with our firefighters to successfully rescue and transport every animal in the building to safety,” Tinley Park fire Chief Steve Klotz in a statement.

While Buckley said she hopes people will continue to donate financially to the shelter, she said they don’t need anymore blankets or towels for the pets because so many good Samaritans met that need.

“We have our insurance adjuster coming out. We have a company coming in to clean the building so it will be safe for the volunteers and the animals to be brought back,” Buckley said.

hsanders@chicagotribune.com