Woman’s pet cat, birds rescued from south Fort Myers house fire

Reporter: Asha Patel, Gail Levy Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:

Firefighters saved a woman’s pets that she feared were trapped inside a house fire early Tuesday morning in south Fort Myers.

A fire broke out in the garage of Mary Stoia’s Case del Lago home on Axis Deer Lane at around 5:15 a.m. She could grab her two dogs before running outside with the other two people living there.

Stoia could not grab her cat Johnny or two birds before escaping the house.

“It was… You know, like, how could you be so stupid to leave them in the house?” said Stoia.

It’s hard to grab everything, every bird, cat, and dog when you wake up to a house on fire.

“I woke up to my bedroom window blowing out. Oh, my God. And then my friend came down the other end of the house going, ‘Mary, get up, get up. The house is on fire. There’s a fire,'” Stoia said. “I don’t have shoes. I didn’t grab a bathrobe, I just put the leashes on my dogs because they’re not street smart.”

The smarts are with the cat Johnny Guitar.

“I was always bringing kittens home as a child. And I would tell my mother, ‘they followed me home.’ So when I picked him up, I said, ‘eh, Johnny Guitar was her favorite movie. That’s what I’m going to name you,'” said Stoia.

Johnny Guitar, the cat, leads a much different life than the movie character. Once firefighters scooped him out from under a bed, his new favorite spot to rest was right in their arms.

“The firefighter says once they were able to actually secure him, he settled right in, and they were able to walk around with him and bring him outside,” said Amy Bollen, with the South Trail Fire Department.

South Trail firefighter rescues Johnny the cat from a house fire in south Fort Myers, Tuesday, January 3, 2023. Credit: South Trail Fire Department

The cat was brought to safety and to his mom, who has a long way to go to make her house home again.

“I’ll survive. That’s about it,” Stoia said.

The animals make Stoia’s home whole, but after a fire started in her garage Tuesday morning, she feared there’d be a hole in her home and heart.

“I still think one’s not going to make it. Between the smoke inhalation and just being a nervous wreck. I don’t think he is going to make it,” said Stoia.

WINK News was in south Fort Myers Tuesday morning, moments after Stoia escaped from her house. She had time to leash up her dogs and yell for the cat but couldn’t get to her birds.

The firefighters on the scene grabbed Pumpkin and Pretty Girl’s cage and wheeled it out to mary…

Gail: “Is Pretty Girl the one…”

Stoia: “No. Wish she was. It’s Pumpkin.”

Gail: “Why do you say that about Pretty Girl!”

Mary: “She’s a slob. She’s a pig. She throws her seeds all over. Oh, man. I know. You’re gonna be stuck with him for a while. Yeah. And she’s vicious. He’s not. He’s a gentle little bird.”

Even though Stoia would charge Pretty Girl rent if she could, she still loves the bird and is happy firefighters came to the rescue.

“Just thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Stoia, whose life is whole despite the fire that ruined her home.

Stoia’s birds and dogs are with one of her neighbors. She said Johnny Guitar is staying with one of her friends.

One person from the home reported minor injuries and was treated at the scene by firefighters. The Red Cross was called to assist.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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