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Fire hits petting zoo; baby animals rescued

Updated: March 13, 2013 6:21AM

HAMPSHIRE TOWNSHIP — Firefighters found themselves leading away or carrying out a menagerie of ponies, goats, rabbits, chickens and sheep — many of them young — when fire broke out Sunday on a farm that provides mobile petting zoos to public attractions such as Santa Comes to Hampshire.

Trevor Herrmann, deputy chief of the Hampshire Fire Protection District, said the fire was first noticed at 11:22 a.m. in a barn in the 44W200 block of Route 20, between Hampshire and Pingree Grove.

“The owner had started taking the animals out before we got there,” Herrmann said. “The first engine company began attacking the fire while the second to arrive opened a back door and took out the other animals. The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes and was contained to the interior of the barn.”

He said the animals removed seemed to be in good condition and there were no human injuries. The barn remains usable and damage was preliminarily estimated at $5,000, though the building’s structural elements might have been compromised by the flames, he said.

Hampshire Fire Protection District investigator Mike Lucas said the cause seems to have been improper wiring on a heating lamp the proprietor was using to keep the livestock’s water from freezing.

Route 20 was closed to traffic between Route 47 and Allen Road for about an hour. Hampshire firefighters were assisted by mutual-aid firefighters from the Burlington, Huntley, Genoa and Marengo fire districts.

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