Devastating Fire

Update-Jan 31st:
We are so grateful for the support and heartfelt well wishes we have received over the last few days. The animals have been moved to foster homes with staff and volunteers and temporary homes within Urban. Our Shell-Busey-built classroom is now home to several animals because we can control the temperature in the room and make sure it stays warm during this cold snap.

The animals have been vet-checked and received medication. Several vet techs/students have offered to come by over the next two weeks to administer medicines to the animals in an effort to stave off infections.

Our GoFundMe account was originally started a couple of years ago to bring awareness to Urban and help with our monthly expenses. We don't want to have multiple accounts floating around, instead of making a new account and possibly confusing people we have repurposed this one. The amount raised includes all monies raised since the account was opened in 2020. Please continue to share the link and our story.

We did everything right. We had surge protectors in place, we replaced the old ones, we have had yearly inspections by the fire department and electricians have been through the facility over the years. One unfortunate power surge overloading a surge protector and the unthinkable happened.

We are meeting with insurance adjusters to find out what, exactly, will be covered and what won't be. The Board of Directors is meeting Sunday to plan the next steps. Meanwhile, the staff and volunteers are working long hours to ensure the animals are cared for and safe.

We will be moving onto the clean-up stage next and we will be contacting everyone that offered to help with details of our plan as it unfolds.

What Happened:
We suffered a devastating fire last night (Jan 27th). The power went out during the day. When it came back on around 9pm (long after everyone left for the day) there was a power surge that overpowered a surge protector that was powering a snake tank. The ensuing smouldering fire covered the entire area with soot and filled the room with thick smoke. When one of our volunteers, Louise, arrived this morning she discovered the fire. She called 911 and while waiting for them went into the front area of the building and started rescuing animals. When the fire department arrived they stopped her from entering again. After putting the fire out, firefighters and police, along with other staff and volunteers that arrived in response to Louise’s calls, started searching for survivors and removed them from the area to temporary holding areas in the rest of the building which was unaffected by the fire. Among the losses: all the sugar gliders, the guinea pigs, the skinny pigs, lots of small lizards, snakes, turtles, small birds, frogs, all the fish except the beta fish, they survived. Some animals survived – we do not have an official count yet. And, for some reason, people keep asking about the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, they survived. While the iguanas, small lizards, the tarantulas, lots of turtles, the African Spurred Tortoises, and the snapping turtles survived, many of them will develop respiratory issues that will need to be treated. We may lose more of the animals. Several of the reptiles needed bathes to remove the soot. We have fostered several of the animals to staff and volunteers, and are working on triage right now. We have housed several of the animals in our Shell Busey sponsored classroom as it is the warmest room in the building now that the front area is compromised.

The damage is severe and extensive in the front area of the building. There are two doors separating the front area from the middle area, which prevented the fire from spreading. Only the smell and a small amount of soot permeated the middle area and into the back area. We have contents insurance but we don’t know yet what that will cover. Everything that can’t be washed will have to be replaced because of the soot. All of the electronics are likely not salvageable. The sheer volume of damaged items is daunting. The entire front area will need to be stripped to the studs and rebuilt. The amount of work that will be required to clean up, rebuild, and be ready to open to the public again is overwhelming.

Our outreach and educational programs bring in a significant portion of the $13,000 we need monthly to care for the animals (feed, lights, heat, wages, rent etc). We will not be able to resume those programs for quite some time. Not all of the animals in our care are suitable for presentations, and those that survived are stressed. Stressed animals cannot go on presentations because it causes them more stress and can lead to illness and death. While the animals are in temporary habitats they will be too stressed to do presentations.

Many people are asking what they can do. At this time we’re asking the public to monitor our social media and share the message of what happened. As we talk to the insurance adjuster and sort out what is covered and what isn’t we’ll create task lists of what we need and post it. At that time, people can pick what they can help with. We're also asking for help in spreading the word about this GoFundMe account. If you can't donate, please consider sharing with your social media contacts. This GoFundMe account was originally started a couple of years ago to bring awareness to Urban and help with our monthly expenses. We don't want to have multiple accounts floating around. The amount raised is the total amount raised since this account was opened back in 2020.

We are asking for patience and understanding from the public. We are closed to the public for the foreseeable future.

Any questions regarding the fire can be directed to [email redacted] and she will forward them to the appropriate person.
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Sharon Doucette
Surrey, BC

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