Friday, Aug. 20, 2004 | 10:58 a.m.
Three lives down and six to go for Chelsey, an enduring Las Vegas house cat.
First the 3-year-old seal-point Siamese mix survived the perils of the streets and a stay at the Dewey Animal Shelter to be adopted by the Deffner family. Then she survived stomach surgery in May to remove a screw she had swallowed. Now she has been discovered alive after an explosion that destroyed the Deffners' four-bedroom Summerlin home on Aug. 12.
Chelsey, missing for five days following the explosion at the 400 block of Crocus Hill Street near Charleston Boulevard and the Las Vegas Beltway, was found Tuesday night hiding in the box spring of Brenda and Dean Deffner's bed, which had toppled when the second floor master bedroom collapsed to the first floor.
"We hope she has a lot of good experiences in her remaining six lives," said Brenda Deffner, whose family is moving into a rented home four houses from their 2,500-square-foot burned-out house that will be rebuilt. "She sure has been through an awful lot so far."
Chelsey's playmate Jewels, the family's 12-year-old Schnauzer, was killed in the explosion.
The Deffners, parents of two boys, were escorted back into the shattered building Tuesday to recover some of Brenda Deffner's jewelry and other belongings that members of a work crew had discovered while clearing the rubble and stabilizing the fragile structure.
"She (Chelsey) must have heard my voice because I heard a faint meow and shouted, 'That's my cat!' " Brenda Deffner said. "The workers got real quiet and I started calling her name and she meowed again. We found her in the box spring of our bed. I don't know how she could have gotten there."
Dehydrated, frightened and hungry, the chocolate and beige-colored cat was otherwise in pretty good shape.
A veterinarian checked the pet and found her lungs were OK despite the ordeal of the explosion, flames, smoke and other airborne contaminants.
When the Deffners went to the babysitter Tuesday night to pick up their children, 8-year-old Dylan and 4-year-old Devon, "I told them close your eyes," Brenda Deffner said. "When they opened them they were very happy to see Chelsey in a (portable) kennel."
It was one of the few bits of good news for the children. In addition to losing their home, toys and one of their pets, the boys lost their Yu-Gi-Oh card collection in the blaze.
The family has lived in Las Vegas for four years but had moved into the Crocus Hill home just last year.
Brenda Deffner said she thinks it will be a good experience for the boys to remain in the neighborhood and watch their home be rebuilt from the ground up. They began moving new furniture into their temporary home Thursday.
The explosion occurred in the garage about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 12 and sparked a fire that destroyed their home and all of their possessions, including the motorcycle and two cars in the garage. Damage was estimated at $600,000.
The cause is still under investigation, but Brenda Deffner said one theory offered to her by a Southwest Gas Co. investigator is that perhaps the family's motorcycle sprung a vapor leak in one of its lines and the fumes caused the gas water heater in the garage to ignite.