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MENTOR, Ohio (WJW) – It’s a tragic start to the Thanksgiving holiday after at least nine dogs were killed in a house fire that spread to the home next door in Mentor.

The fast-moving fire ignited just before midnight inside a home in the 4900 block of Forest Road. The blaze then spread to the house next door.

“I think that the homes being so close to each other in this neighborhood and it got a little bit of a head on us and just kind of jumped from home to home,” said Battalion Chief Tom Keidel.

The woman who lives in the home where the fire started was able to escape. She was suffering from smoke inhalation and was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center.

Firefighters say, unfortunately, at least nine dogs inside the home perished in the fire. The woman told authorities she was taking care of the dogs for relatives and friends, but they have been unable to confirm that claim.

The family that lives next door was able to get out safely.

Twelve hours after the fire started, firefighters were still dealing with hot spots in the first home.

“So right now, we have a little bit of a unique circumstance. We have the collapse in on itself which was created a difficult situation for us to fully extinguish the fire. We brought in some heavy equipment from the city here and we’ll pull it apart and finish extinguishment,” Keidel said.

As fire investigators search for the cause of the blaze, FOX 8 is told they are focusing on the possibility that it was sparked by a space heater.

The hardship now faced by the victims of the fire is inspiring volunteers to pitch in and try to salvage whatever they can.

“I know that this family, in particular, has two little kids, which is heartbreaking. I have grandkids around their age,” said Jeffrey Jukiewicz. “Right now, during the holidays, it’s just a hard hard time for everyone.”