Exotic birds, zoo storage items, 200 bales of hay, among those lost in Brights Zoo fire
WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - Smoke still rising from the ashes, where the main barn once stood. This, hours after flames lit up the night sky, engulfing the building.
"We believe it to be an electrical fire. We're not sure of that, but that is where the fire started is at the control panel somewhere, or the electrical panel," says zoo director, David Bright.
Three volunteer fire departments rushed to the scene; Limestone, Sulphur Springs, and Nolichuckey.
"By the time they were here, the entire barn was engulfed in flames, and that Barn is close to Tony and Connie's house, those are the owners of the zoo; and that barn is also close to where we keep Alf, our giraffe. The fire department was able to keep everything contained to that main barn," Bright says.
Inside the barn was mainly storage items, but parts of it were used as winter housing for the zoo's warm climate birds.
"We did lose birds in that barn. We're looking for a total count right now. We're hoping that some of the cranes had access to inside and out, that's what we're checking now is to make sure that they're still okay. As we know right now, we've lost about 7-10 birds," Bright says.
Neighbors woke up to bright orange and red flames just outside their window.
"We could see that the smoke was billowing way up into the air, but until then there were a whole bunch of fire trucks here," says neighbor Kathy Cornelius.
Bright says the next steps depend on the insurance company's assessment.
"We do have insurance here at the zoo, a very good policy we're hoping, we'll know more on that as the days come on."
The most difficult part about it all is not the loss of materials.
"The loss of the animals is always the hardest. Anything can be rebuilt, you just can't rebuild a life," Bright says.