Owner of wildlife sanctuary recounts rescuing animals from the f - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Owner of wildlife sanctuary recounts rescuing animals from the flames Tuesday

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Some smoke still pours from the rubble of a two-story barn that burned Tuesday afternoon at an Indiana wildlife sanctuary -- killing 41 animals.

Tim Stark, the owner of Wildlife In Need in Charlestown, Indiana, says he left about 20 minutes before the fire broke out. When he got a call from one of his employees, he says he assumed it wasn’t serious.

“I took it for granted. Never had nothing like that before. I told him to put it out,” Stark said.

Stark raced back to his business and tried to get into the barn to save the birds and reptiles inside.

“I’ve never been up against that kind of heat. It was just unreal,” Stark said.

Stark and some others were able to rescue some wolves and get them to safety.

“The fire was right there on them and I wasn’t about to let them sit there and burn, so we did what we could and we got them out of there,” Stark said. “I have no clue how I didn’t get scorched. With the stuff melted on my hands and everything else, I don’t know how I didn’t come out with all kinds of different burns.”

Stark says he lost nearly 30 birds, several reptiles and some mammals.

That barn also housed hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and tools used to run the facility and feed the animals. Stark says that includes the refrigerator and freezer.

While Stark says his sanctuary has faced “unjustified controversy” in recent years regarding its practices, he says that hasn’t put an end to his business and this tragic loss won't either.

“It’s gonna slow me down, but nothing ever stops me. It’s just that simple,” Stark said.

Stark says he’s not sure what could have started the fire.

A spokesperson with the Charlestown Fire Department says the cause remains under investigation.

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