Mother, daughter lower dog by harness to escape Riverview fire, lose cat in flames

When a massive fire ripped through the Riverview Crossing apartments on Sunday, Ann Breckenridge and her daughter, Alissa, had to do whatever it took to escape with their lives. It included lowering their 65-pound dog with his harness and leash.

As the flames were scorching through their building, Ann knew she had just one way out of her third-story apartment. As flames inched closer and closer, they had to make the jump from the balcony, along with their dog, as neighbors below raced to the rescue.

"This is the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. The most traumatizing thing - second to watching my parents pass away," said Ann. "At first they were like throw down and I'll catch him. I was like he's a 65-pound British Bulldog, you're probably not going to catch him. They said the alternative was just to lower him by his leash and hope his leash and harness don't break."

The leash and harness held and they were able to lower him to safety. Their 6-year-old cat, Oscar, wasn't as lucky. He became frightened amid the daring escape and ran back into their apartment. His grey coat was impossible to see among the thick smoke. Ann tried to find him inside but without any luck.

It would be another 22 hours and five total trips from firefighters before the fire was completely extinguished.

"These could see the exhaustion on all of their faces. It was crazy, like nothing you ever experience. You see those types of fires in movies. It didn't even seem real, almost," said Ann.

On Tuesday, investigators were at the apartments to search for a cause of the catastrophe. Those who called them home are reflecting on the horrifying ordeal and what was lost forever.

"We got out, we're safe and that's great. I know that things can be replaced but there were things in there that can't be replaced like pictures of my parents. Both of my parents are deceased now," said Ann.

Ann and Alissa were supposed to head to Las Vegas this week to celebrate Alissa's 21st birthday. Instead, they're staying at a hotel and are focusing on rebuilding their lives.

Friends have started a GoFundMe to try and ease their burden. For more, head to the link here.

Ann Breckenridge and her daughter escaped an apartment fire with their lives and their dog after lowering him down with his leash and harness.