SCHUYLKILL COUNTY, Pa. — Animals at a wildlife center in Schuylkill County died in a fire Monday morning.
Crews were called out around 8 a.m. to the Red Creek Wildlife Center on Moonhill Drive in Wayne Township, near Schuylkill Haven.
Firefighters said the place was engulfed in flames when they arrived.
No animals survived.
"There were numerous fire trucks. I saw the building on fire. When I saw the smoke over the mountain, I knew it was bad," said Peggy Hentz, founder of the Red Creek Wildlife Center.
The clinic building housed animals that needed medical care — such as birds, raccoons, and turtles.
Firefighters from seven fire companies put out the blaze but were unable to save the dozens of animals inside.
"At that point, we knew there were some in there, and we tried to make a push, but the fire conditions were very bad at that point, and we weren't able to get in until they were knocked down," said Summit Station Fire Co. Assistant Chief Rory Gauche.
The owners say about 4,000 animals come in and out of the wildlife center every year.
"The hardest part is all the animals that we've lost in this fire. That is literally the hardest part. All of the materials, we can replace them and get new stuff, but we can't replace the animals," said volunteer Tyler Bonn.
Hentz opened the Red Creek Wildlife Center more than 20 years ago.
"If this service didn't exist, and someone finds a wild animal, they want to help it. And they'll take into their own home, which isn't good for the animal to be cared for if somebody doesn't know how to," Hentz said.
"We're all made up of people who love animals, and we all come together like a family to look after these critters," Bonn added.
Newswatch 16 reported on a fundraiser in September for a new facility. The owners now hope to raise funds to rebuild.
A state police fire marshal believes the fire started accidentally.
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