Dozens of animals killed in fire at Surrey exotic animal rescue
A fire at an exotic animal rescue in Surrey killed dozens of animals and displaced many more over the weekend.
On Saturday morning, a volunteer showed up to their shift at Urban Safari Rescue and realized there had been a fire overnight, according to board member Pamala-Rose Combs. After calling 911, the volunteer scrambled to try to save as many animals as possible, but for some it was just too late.
When Combs arrived after the fire had been put out, she said she was shocked and speechless.
“I walked in the door and that first moment, there were really no words,” she told CTV News. “The loss has been devastating. The sugar gliders, the skinny pigs, the guinea pigs, the mammals, the fish, everyone that was in the front area of the building was subjected to the fire.”
Combs said dozens of animals died from the soot or smoke inhalation. One ball python named Solo was rescued from the blaze but suffered serious injuries such as the loss of one eye.
Urban Safari Rescue Society has been around for nearly 12 years and is home to hundreds of exotic animals that are abandoned or surrendered. It relies on its outreach and educational programs to earn money.
Greg McRobbie, the assistant chief of the Surrey Fire Service said the fire started with a power surge in a heating unit in one of the animal cages.
“I think the soot and the remnants in there from the plastic being burnt would have been the biggest cause for the animals,” McRobbie said.
While nothing can make up for the animals lost, Combs said Urban Safari does have insurance. But she also notes that it won’t cover everything and that the non-profit was just starting to recover from the financial fallout and closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And now, we’re closed for business," she said. We have no idea how long this is going to take.”
The support that has come pouring in from staff, volunteers and community members after the fire has been overwhelming, she added, but the future remains uncertain. The rebuilding process is expected to take months and the organization has started an online fundraiser to help cover the costs.
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