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Mice suspected in fire that killed cats

OSHAWA, Ontario, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Preliminary investigation into a Canadian Humane Society shelter fire that killed almost 100 cats suggests it was caused by mice gnawing on wires.

The blaze broke out at the unmanned Durham Region Humane Society shelter in Oshawa, east of Toronto, around 2 a.m. Wednesday. Firefighters were only able to rescue nine dogs and two cats because the fire was well-developed when they arrived.

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Initially, officials said 180 cats died of smoke inhalation, but after a body count the number was lowered to about 100, along with three dogs, several rabbits and rodents, the Toronto Star reported Friday.

Damages were estimated at $250,000, shelter manager Ruby Richards told the newspaper from a temporary office. She said there has been a national outpouring of support with donations streaming in to the Web site, along with offers of temporary locations, food and supplies.

"It's been crazy here," Richards said. "People are very upset and some people have just been crying on the phone."

She said it appears the fire started in the ceiling, and investigators believe an electrical short was caused by mice chewing on electrical wires.

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