The Freedom Valley Chronicles: The Millennium Fire – Part Ten The Animals Of Riverwalk At Millennium

Human beings were not the only ones impacted by the fire at Riverwalk At Millennium.  A number of four-legged animals – dogs and cats – plus other types of animals were also affected by the inferno on August 13, 2008.

The above photo is of two fire fighters from the Reiffton Fire Company of Berks County who rescued a four-legged resident of Riverwalk At Millennium on August 13, 2008.  The fire company is now part of the Exeter Township Fire Department.

Some of the animals were taken out of the apartments by tenants and others prior to the fire reaching Riverwalk At Millennium.  Fire fighters went door-to-door in efforts to locate any people or animals that were in the buildings as flames descended from the skies.  Other animals fled the scene and ran to safer areas.  A few animals died because of the fire.

A number of people and organizations helped to locate, rescue, and treat animals in distress at Riverwalk At Millennium.

The Montgomery County SPCA helped animals affected by the fire at Riverwalk At Millennium.

The Montgomery County SPCA, headquartered on Ridge Pike near Butler Pike in Whitemarsh Township, was one of the organizations that helped animals and their loved ones affected by the fire in Conshohocken.

“The Montgomery County SPCA arrived at the fire scene at 7:00 PM on August 13th [2008],” explained Mr. Carmen Ronio, Executive Director of the Montgomery County SPCA.  “We were unable to do much at that time as the fire was being fought.  By 10:30 AM the next morning, we had set up a command post and obtained names of residents that had pets, a description of the pets, and which apartment they were living in.  We maintained a presence at the scene every day until August 22nd.  We made our shelter and veterinarians available to the residents needing help for their animals.”

The fire that devastated two of the buildings at Riverwalk At Millennium began at the neighboring property of Stables At Millennium.  That property, seen fully engulfed in flames in this photograph, was under construction at that time.

“As of August 22nd [2008], with the assistance of the fire departments and demolition teams, we rescued 22 cats, six dogs, one turtle, and one rabbit and reunited them with their owners,” stated Mr. Ronio.  “We had set up humane traps in the hopes of recovering cats that may have escaped the buildings, and we monitored them hourly.”

Several of the animals needed medical care due to the fire.

“We treated one dog for smoke inhalation and two cats with burns,” explained Mr. Ronio.  “One of the cats rescued, an eighteen-year-old cat named Tempest, was treated by us for burns on her stomach.  She seemed to do fine after treatment.”

A parrot, formerly residing at Riverwalk at Millennium, was seen flying around on Forrest Street after the fire.  The Montgomery County SPCA reported that the parrot was eventually captured and returned to its family.

Unfortunately, not all of the animals were saved.

“We recovered deceased one dog and a cat and cremated them for the owner,” explained Mr. Ronio.  “We also cremated a second cat for an owner at no expense to them.”

Beyond the animals rescued and the ones that died, efforts were still underway to locate several additional animals in the weeks after the fire.  The SPCA reported at the time that three dogs and five cats were still missing.

Many in the community were touched by the efforts to locate, rescue, and treat the animals in distress.

The Montgomery County SPCA commended the fire fighters, police officers, and the demolition teams for assisting the organization in these efforts.

One of the posters put up by residents of Riverwalk at Millennium as they sought to find their pets after the fire in Conshohocken.

Please let us know by email at if you recognize and have further information on any of the animals mentioned in this news column.

The next news column will detail comments from residents of Conshohocken regarding some of their memories of the inferno and its aftermath.

The first photograph is courtesy of the Exeter Township Fire Department, August 13, 2008.

The logo of the Montgomery County SPCA is owned by and is provided as a courtesy by Montgomery County SPCA, 2018.

The third photograph is courtesy of Ms. Ying Nichada, August 13, 2008.

The fourth photograph is courtesy of Ms. Elise Gaul, August of 2008.

Do you have questions about local history?  A street name?  A building?

Your questions may be used in a future news column.

Contact Richard McDonough at

© 2018 Richard McDonough