Animals killed and wildlife center destroyed in fire


WAYNE TOWNSHIP, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Dozens of animals were killed in a devastating fire at a local wildlife sanctuary .

Firefighters responded to the Red Creek Wildlife Center in Wayne Township, near Schuylkill Haven in Schuylkill County, around 8:00 a.m. Monday morning for a report of a fire.

“Kailey calling me telling me that Red Creek was on fire,” said Peggy Hentz, Executive Director and Founder of Red Creek Wildlife Center.

For Hentz, Monday morning was off to an unimaginable start.

A fire broke out at the sanctuary in Wayne Township around 8:00 a.m.

Multiple fire crews in Schuylkill County responded. Firefighters say the smoke was seen from miles away.

Once the fire was controlled firefighters tore through the wreckage.

Hentz says all of the animals in the clinic under temporary medical care died.

“Buildings can get rebuilt. I am glad the people are fine, we lost some animals and that is just heartbreaking,” Hentz said.

“It’s a loss to the community cause it’s the wildlife center and everything so that’s a big loss for them, I know they’ve been here for a long time,” Assistant Fire Chief of the Summit Station Fire Company Rory Gauche explained.

Red Creek has been a staple in the community for more than 30 years.

The wildlife center opened in 1991, giving second chances to Pennsylvania wildlife through rescue and rehabilitation.

The nonprofit is now looking for a second chance of its own.

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“We are actually in a building project for a new building,” said Hertz.

Plans to rebuild may have to be sped up to continue to save animals and the community.

“If the service didn’t exist, and someone finds a wild animal, they want to help it and they’ll take it in their own home, which isn’t good for the animal to be cared for if somebody doesn’t know how to. It’s also not good for the family because wild animals are unsafe and they can carry diseases and parasites that can affect people,” Hertz said.

The exact number of animals killed in the fire has not been released. The Red Creek Wildlife Center is accepting donations .

A Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal has determined the fire to be accidental. State police estimate the fire caused over $50,000 worth of damages to the wild life center.

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