Animals in when barn burns

Posted: Thursday, December 30, 2010

At least two alpacas died in a structure fire in Kenai on Tuesday evening.

Fire Chief Mike Tilly said the Kenai Fire Department responded to the fire after a Kenai police officer saw smoke while driving on the Kenai Spur Highway. The department sent eight people in to fight the fire, and asked for assistance from Central Emergency Services. Tilly said CES brought two tankers of water and four people to assist the department. The firefighters had to haul water in because the North Dogwood home was in an unhydrated area, he said.

Tilly called it an "unfortunate fire" because the owners had only been gone for about 20 minutes when they were notified of the fire.

It was doubly unfortunate because the barn was a loss when the fire department arrived.

"Our jobs were to try and limit the spread to any other structures," he said.

The structure had an open layout, so the barn burnt more quickly than a compartmentalized house would have.

"The fire spread very easily and very rapidly," Tilly said.

The fire was put out after about an hour and 15 minutes, and two other structures at the North Dogwood property were not damaged.

The alpacas (an animal similar to a llama) weren't the only animals involved in the fire, Tilly said.

"We did save two rabbits," he said.

The rabbits were alive and in their cages when fire-fighters entered the structure.

Tilly said the department didn't have an exact figure for the number of animals in the barn, which made it difficult to account for them. But it looked like most of the alpacas made it out of the barn and into a pasture area, he said.

According to state records, the owners operate a farm called Dandelion Acres at the property. Records say that they sell yarn and wool products, likely from the alpacas.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Tilly said the preliminary thought was that it was caused by a wood-fired boiler.

Molly Dischner can be reached at

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