31 animals killed in large fire at Orange County wildlife sanctuary

Cause of fire investigated at Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary

By Gaby Nunez - Producer

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A fire broke out at Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary in Orange County early Monday morning, killing more than 30 animals.

Neighbors reported the fire around 1:30 a.m. in the 800 block of Baron Road near Avalon Park.

Calls to 911 released after the fire detail the moment a neighbor called to report the flames.

"We're the neighbors," the caller said. "Our dog was barking and we just woke up and saw it."

The woman told dispatchers she heard an explosion, and that she could already see flames and heavy smoke.

"Yes, hurry up. I think it's going to be really bad. Oh my God," the woman said.

Crews had to respond with water trucks because the fire was in a rural area. The blaze was extinguished 90 minutes later, officials said.

According to Orange County Fire Rescue, the homeowner, Jim Bronzo, was asleep in the two-story home and was awakened by the noise from 80 peacocks on property. Bronzo was able to save a few of the animals that were inside the home, according to OCFR.

[PHOTOS: Large fire breaks out at Orange County wildlife sanctuary]

An attorney for Bronzo initially said 41 animals, including three dogs, cats, snakes and four 300-pound tortoises, were killed in the fire. Later, some animals were found bringing the number down to 31, according to the homeowner.

Friends and neighbors said a lot of help will be needed.

"Everything is gone," said Katrina Shadix, a friend of the owner. "We're just asking for a lot of farm animal food right now. The animals that are here are the ones that are staying. There's pigs, turkeys, goats. They all need food and a lot of hay."

Volunteers are already pitching in.

"Today when I saw that on the news, I'm like, I loaded my car up with a lot of cat food. That's all I had around, but everyone seems to like it in there," Sharon Huggins said. "It's just so sad that this could happen because it's such a great little paradise out in the middle of nowhere. We'll rebuild. We'll help him and you know it will be back in three months."

As many as 350 animals, including iguanas, parrots, swans, ducks, goats, pigs, house pets and others, are cared for at Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary.

Orange County Commissioner Patty Sheehan helped wrangle two llamas back into a gated area, and a baby raccoon was singed but survived the blaze.

Officials said Bronzo has lived there for 38 years, and the home is not insured.

GoFundMe page was created for the sanctuary and raised nearly $38,000 in about eight hours. Businesses are also helping raise funds for the sanctuary.

The cause of the fire is not known and remains under investigation.

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