WESTPORT—A mini-menagerie of animals survived heat and smoke in a early morning blaze at a child-centered museum.
“We got very lucky because the fire doors were closed,” said Tony McDowell, Executive Director of Earthplace.
“Numerous animals were rescued from the fire room and adjoining rooms and relocated to a safe area,” he wrote, adding that mutual aid was requested from Norwalk and Fairfield departments after “all Westport FD resources were operating at the scene.”
The fire broke out in an animal prep room were no animals are kept overnight. Heat and smoke crept into a neighboring room full of snakes, amphibians, and other creatures. Almost all of them survived.
“We lost a tree frog,” McDowell said, adding that some cockroaches may have also perished.
McDowell said that he was told by fire fighters that many animals survived hazardous smoke conditions that would have killed humans, in part because they consume less oxygen.
Some of the creatures are shaken, he added, but are now in the hands of dedicated animal care technicians, according to McDowell.
The Earthcenter will be closed Friday, and the area where the animals were kept might not open for a while. However, McDowell said that programming for the weekend will go ahead as planned.
Many commercial fire alarms are false positives, but first responders spotted smoke coming out of the building and called for backup. While units arrived, they prevented the spread of flames with water hoses, according to Yost.
The Westport Fire Marshal worked with Eversource Friday morning to determine the cause of the fire. Firefighters were finished with the blaze around 8:45 a.m.