Morning Fire Destroys Barn at Wylie Zoo (SD)

Firefighter with hydraulic extrication equipment

Elisa Sand

American News, Aberdeen, S.D.

(TNS)

A metal storage building, used to shelter animals in the winter or newborn animals in the spring at the Wylie Park zoo, was destroyed in an early morning fire Tuesday.

Aberdeen Fire & Rescue was called to the scene at 5:30 a.m., according to a news release from the fire department. Battalion Chief Stacy Vrchota said the fire, which had been burning for some time when firefighters arrived, was spotted by a person out for an early morning walk.

Firefighters found the building fully engulfed and partially collapsed upon arrival, according to the release, and had to use heavy equipment to pull apart the building. They did that so they could break apart hay bales, which can burn for quite some time once they get started, Vrchota said.

Wylie Park staff was also on scene moving animals and providing assistance.

Vrchota said the much of the building contained hay bales, and there was some small equipment inside.

Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Mark Hoven said the barn had 17 goats inside as well as chickens. The animals had the ability to go in and out of the barn, he said, and 12 of them were outside. Five died in the fire, Hoven said, along with an unknown number of chickens.

All the surviving animals have since been checked by a veterinarian, he said. The goats are now being housed in another barn in the park.

A newer building nearby the one that caught fire was saved, Vrchota said. Hoven said that nearby building was the granary, which houses the feed for the animals.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, Vrchota said, but it appears to be electrical.

The Aberdeen Rural Fire Department was called to assist, and the state fire marshal’s office also responded. The main fire crews left Wylie by 8 a.m., though some firefighters remained on the scene.

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