Edmonton

9 animals killed in barn fire at Wetaskiwin farm sanctuary

Nine animals died Thursday night in a barn fire at a sanctuary for farm animals south of Edmonton.

'The fire last night has devastated FARRM, both emotionally and in resource'

Farm Animal Rescue & Rehoming Movement, or FARRM for short, acts as a sanctuary for surrendered and abused farm animals. (FARRM/Facebook)

Nine animals died Thursday night in a barn fire at a sanctuary for farm animals south of Edmonton.

The dead animals may have included goats, pigs and cats, Wetaskiwin's fire chief said.

"The fire last night has devastated FARRM, both emotionally and in resource," Melissa Foley, founder of Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement wrote on Facebook Friday morning.

"We can confirm that at least nine animals lost their lives in the fire, at least one has been severely injured." 

FARRM, based on a small acreage east of Wetaskiwin, acts as a safe haven for surrendered and abused farm animals, like chickens, goats and pot-bellied pigs.

Wetaskiwin fire Chief Jamie Wilkinson said his crews were called to the property around 6 p.m.

The homeowners were home at the time but didn't notice the fire until it had already done significant damage, Wilkinson said. 

They didn't know the barn was on fire until their neighbour knocked on the door.- Jamie Wilkinson

"They didn't know the barn was on fire until their neighbour knocked on the door and alerted them," Wilkinson said.

By the time firefighters arrived on the scene, the barn was fully engulfed and the fire was at risk of spreading to neighbouring buildings, Wilkinson said.

"There was not really not much that we could do to save the building and there was a report of several animals still inside. Unfortunately they did not make it through the fire."

'Very tame animals'

The fire was put out by 10 p.m. A crew of 16 firefighters remained on scene until midnight. They will return today to assess the scene, Wilkinson said. 

"To the number of animals inside, until we can actually dig out the debris, we can't be sure how many animals were actually in there.

"I know there may have been goats and large pigs ... And I think there may have been some cats." 

Wilkinson said the animals killed were not typical farm animals. 

"Very tame animals is what they are," he said. 

"I have never in my life seen pigs and goats like this. I mean, she can get them to sit."  

The cause remains under investigation. 

In a post to FARRM's Facebook page, Foley described the fire as devastating. She said the charity will need help caring for the surviving animals. 

"At this time, and for their safety and well-being, the animals will remain at FARRM," Foley wrote. "We appreciate the offers to assist in temporary location, but many are special needs, require specific care, and because of poor health, cannot be relocated.

"We immediately require monetary donations to assist for temporary housing and food.

"The best way to assist FARRM right now is to donate."

Foley declined an interview.

FARRM made international headlines in 2017 when Daisy the blind goat was stolen from the sanctuary. (FARRM/Facebook)

FARRM made international headlines in September 2017 when a blind baby goat named Daisy was stolen from the property.

The agency offered a $10,000, no-questions-asked reward for the return of the animal, and the scale of the ensuing search was immense.

Thousands of volunteers assisted in the search. One man offered to use his small airplane to scan the surrounding farmland.

A telepath also offered her services.

After eight days of searching, the goat mysteriously reappeared less than a kilometre from home, completely unharmed.

"Any time we've ever needed our community for anything, they've been there," Foley said at the time.

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon

Journalist

Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca

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