Fires hit more than zoo
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1996:
The December 24 electrical fire at the
Philadelphia Zoo that killed 23 endangered primates
[January/February edition] was followed by a series
of other reminders of the vulnerability of animal care
facilities of all kinds to fire: not regulated as closely
as human dwellings, frequently filled with easily combustible
hay, straw, and sawdust, and usually left
Also within the Philadelphia area, a January
10 blaze at the Rocky Top Stable in North Union,
Pennsylvania, killed 13 show horses, five dogs, and
two cows. Nearby water sources were frozen, and
because of heavy snow, pumper trucks had to stop
900 feet away. Among the victims was a Paso Fino
horse rated as the top Puerto Rican show horse in the
On January 14, an apparent electrical fire
killed eight dogs and cats at the Cumberland Valley
Veterinary clinic, near Hagerstown, Maryland.
Another eight animals were rescued.
The same evening, yet another electrical fire
gutted the portable classroom occupied by the La
Quinta Middle School Pet Club in La Quinta,
California, unnoticed by anyone until teacher Tim
Forrester came to feed the animals on January 15,
Martin Luther King Day, a day after it burned itself
out. Killed were 45 small mammals, reptiles, and
rare exotic birds, plus about 50 fish. Just three turtles
survived. The Pet Club, essentially a mini-zoo, grew
out of Forrester’s effort to work lessons about animal
care and ecology into the regular curriculum. For his
success, he was named the 1994 Desert Sands Unified
School District Teacher of the Year.
A day later, a fire of unknown origin killed
uncounted hundreds of birds, monkeys, reptiles, and
fish at Lempicki’s House of Pets in Garden City,
Michigan. Owner Larry Lempicki vowed to rebuild.
There were some heroic pet rescue stories
among the horrors. On December 30 in Jackson,
Mississippi, Janet Berlin screamed that her parrot
Poncho was inside a burning Roto-Rooter franchise.
Firefighters fought their way in to retrieve Pancho,
who suffered minor cuts in trying to claw his way out
of his cage. On January 2 in New Orleans, an elderly
woman identified only as “Miss Pat” was rescued from
her blazing home by neighbors, but ran back inside,
retrieving four dogs as her hair caught fire. An
unknown number of cats escaped as well. And in
Huntsville, Alabama, firefighter Bob Rouse on
January 20 used mouth-to-snout resuscitation to save a
seven-year-old Chihuahua belonging to Glenda
Barnett. The dog had suffered smoke inhalation during
a house fire.
“You just hold the mouth shut and breath
through the animal’s nose pretty much like you do on a
baby,” Rouse said.