TYLER, TX (KLTV) - As flames took over a Tyler apartment building, authorities rushed door to door escorting both human and animal residents to safety.
The fight against the fire was especially painful for one East Texas woman after her cat ran back into her burning home as she was escorted out.
Thursday, the loving mother, Erin Hitt, and her only child, Oliver, an outspoken 18-pound tabby cat were reunited.
Hitt was asleep when the flames hit Hudson Apartments last night, awaking to chaos.
"I look out my window, and people are running, and I see flames," she said.
Firefighters gave Hitt seconds to escape her burning first floor apartment. In just moments she was forced to gather everything she could, everything except Oliver.
"I was not going to leave until Oliver was brought out dead or alive," she said.
Once the flames were out, firefighters located Oliver, blackened by smoke but alive.
"All the policemen, all the firemen, everyone here wanted to know where was Oliver...so he's kind of like a little celebrity now," said Hitt.
"They brought Oliver in with a little smoke inhalation and he had a little trouble breathing," said Dr. Doyle Starnes, with Starnes Animal Clinic.
Rushed to an emergency clinic, X-rays showed Oliver's injuries. Soot made its way into his lungs causing nurses to place Oliver in a special oxygen chamber with success.
"He's acting back to his normal self," said Hitt. "He's pretty cantankerous. He's not a fan of the vet.
Back in old spirits, Oliver was released from the vet Thursday afternoon.
"It makes me feel so much better knowing that he's going to be ok," said Hitt. "It just reminds me that life is precious and the material things don't matter."
Vets say cats are extra susceptible to smoke due to sensitive lungs. They say Oliver will remain on medication but should be back to normal within a week.