SFD Firefighters were dispatched to respond to a fire at Woodland Park Zoo at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, December 15.
Firefighters arrived to find flames coming from the Night Exhibit building, where Zoo staff had evacuated guests and had a plan to evacuate the animals.
The first arriving SFD units laid hose lines to the interior of the exhibit and to the main floor, quickly extinguishing the fire where it had initiated. Firefighters were also able to successfully contain and extinguish all extended flames in the attic by 4:30 p.m.
The Seattle Fire Department worked closely with Zoo employees to evacuate animals and coordinate a team that moved live animals during the process. Upon extinguishing the fire, Firefighters checked for hot spots and were on the scene until 7:30 a.m. on Friday, December 16, to monitor the area.
According to a report by our news partners at The Seattle Times, six small turtles are believed to be dead after the fire where they were hibernating for winter.
According to the zoo, the turtles were in the basement of The Night Exhibit, which formerly housed nocturnal animals, when the fire started around 3:15 p.m. No other animals are known to be hurt. Two firefighters were temporarily hospitalized for minor injuries. Zoo staff believe the turtles died but have been unable to get inside the building to confirm.
“Any loss of life is hard, but this loss is especially heartbreaking given the tireless work of our staff to evacuate all of the animals they could reach,” Woodland Park Zoo staff wrote in a blog post.
The turtles that are believed to have perished include two black-breasted leaf turtles, a male and a female, were 26 years old, according to zoo spokeswoman Gigi Allianic. Of the four Indochinese box turtles, two males were 16 years old; one male was 4 years old and the youngest, of undetermined sex, was 2 years old.
Unfortunately, Woodland Park Zoo staff have been unable to enter the building as of yet to confirm the state of the turtles as the building conditions remain too dangerous.
Two firefighters were injured in the incident, one with minor burns and the other from possible contact with an electrical panel while firefighting. Both were transported to Harborview Medical Center where they were treated and released.
Fire Investigation Unit members arrived to investigate the exhibit building designed to display nocturnal animals. However, due to structural instability and partial collapse, Fire Investigators were unable to determine a specific cause.
The damage of this incident is estimated at $1.5 million dollars.
The cause of the blaze continues to remain unknown.