Family cat blamed for fire that destroys house in Gastonia

A family’s pet cat is getting the blame for a fire that destroyed a house early Thursday in Gastonia, officials said.

The blaze was reported about 4:30 a.m. at a single-story home in the 400 block of North Modena Street. That is near East Ozark Avenue, a short distance northeast of downtown Gastonia.

Officials said firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the house when they arrived. In addition, flames were visible on one side of the house.

The family was able to escape without injury.

Jim Landis, a spokesman for the Gastonia Fire Department, said investigators determined the family cat knocked over a candle, starting the blaze. The cat had not been found as of midmorning Thursday.

The house, valued at $75,000, was destroyed, officials said. The family was able to get help in finding a place to live, authorities said.