After almost two weeks, two local cats missing after a devastating fire at a 10th Avenue apartment building have been recovered from an air shaft by their owners (with the help of FDNY).

It appears that the American Shorthair cat brothers named Spencer and Gideon had crawled into the air shaft and eventually through a 3 to 4-inch crevice into the space between old and new ceiling layers of the 3rd-floor apartment below owners Rob Easter and Celia Lawson. The FDNY Rescue team ripped a hole in the 4th floor into which Rob was able to leave treats and install a humane trap donated by a fellow HK resident. 

“It’s been an incredible ordeal,” said Rob. After a large fire broke out on January 14 in a neighboring unit on 10th Ave between W48/49th Street, Rob and his wife Celia were forced to flee without their beloved pets. While the couple wasn’t sure if the cats had survived the fire, they notified local vets of their description and distributed fliers to the Hell’s Kitchen community in hopes of relocating the pair. 

Easter and Lawson distributed fliers around the neighborhood

As the search continued, Rob sought the help of FDNY Rescue 1 on W43rd Street, who had originally responded to the blaze. “The FDNY crew were so quick to jump back into action that I didn’t even catch their names,” said Rob. Thankfully, the firefighters’ feline reconnaissance mission proved a success.

FDNY at the fire on 10th Avenue between W47/48th Streets on January 14, 2022. Photo: Keegan Campbell

Both Rob and the FDNY suspected that if the cats had survived the fire they would be trapped somewhere in the building’s air shaft or ceiling — which dates back to the late 1800s/early 1900s and contains some of the original layers of plaster and lath. 

“Spencer was the first to appear,” said Rob. “He crawled into the trap on Thursday evening.” After that, Rob and Celia were able to spot Gideon’s nose poking out from behind the trap, but it took some additional coaxing and encouragement before they were able to retrieve him from the walls on Friday evening. 

Though Spencer was slightly bruised from their time in the crawlspace, the cats were otherwise found in relatively good condition, despite not having had access to food or water for 12 days — “I suspect there are no more mice,” said Rob.  

Now home and resting, Spencer and Gideon are slowly recovering from their ordeal in the grateful care of Rob and Celia. While reconstruction on their apartment has not yet begun and the building is currently still in the first stages of cleanup and damage repair, their home is once again complete. 

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  1. This is wonderful news! Another feather in the cap of the FDNY for being life savers of ALL! And, so grateful to you, W42St, for giving this happy closure to the story.

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