MOUNT VERNON — A fire which apparently started in the kitchen on Sunday caused only moderate fire and smoke damage to the home of Neil and Debra McIlvoy on Gilchrist Road, but more than 100 animals died as a result.
The McIlvoys were not home when the fire broke out: A person driving past the house saw smoke coming from the eaves of the home and called 9-1-1. The College Township Fire Department extinguished the fire with assistance from the Mount Vernon Fire Department and the Eastern Knox County Joint Fire District.
Knox County Health Commissioner Julie Miller said Debra McIlvoy is devastated by the loss of the animals, which were buried on Sunday. Miller was at the scene to ensure that all the [deceased] animals responders could see and reach were buried.
“We didn’t want them decomposing and having scavengers come in,” Miller said. “The animals were not diseased. They looked well-cared for.”
Miller described McIlvoy as a kind-hearted animal lover. “People would call her [Debra] when they found neglected or abandoned animals,” she said. “If they didn’t know what to do with them, they would call her and she would take them in and take care of them.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.