Safari Joe's fire kills about 100 animals

Friday, January 18th 2008, 8:56 pm
By: News 9

By Craig Day, News on 6

A fire at a Mayes County animal park killed 80 to 100 animals Thursday night.

The owner of Safari Joe's Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary near Adair said he is uncertain when the a sanctuary for unwanted, abused or neglected exotic animals will reopen.

"You can't see anything. The whole building was just filled with black smoke and you can't see anything at all," said Owner Joe Estes said.

Firefighters were able to put out the fire in about 20 minutes, but it burned long enough to kill as many as 100 animals. The monkeys, birds, reptiles and other animals killed in the fire were housed in the large barn for the winter.

"My heart is just... I can't feel anything right now," Estes said. "I've been just devastated from the second it happened until now. I just can't even think."

 Investigators said they think the fire started accidentally by a heater.

Estes also takes some of the animals from Safari Joe's to schools, nursing homes, and birthday parties throughout the year. But now because of the fire, he'll have to cancel many of those appearances.

Safari Joe's is a nonprofit organization. In addition to killing the animals, the fire also destroyed all of their feed and medical supplies. An assistance fund for the sanctuary has been set up. Donations can be made at any Arvest Bank.