Firefighters fought bravely yesterday to contain a blazing fire that had tragically broken out at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo, prompting park officials to evacuate wild animals, and humans, from the surrounding "at-risk" areas of the zoo.
Unfortunately, the Seattle Times noted, those at-risk areas technically included large expanses of the zoo's grounds that served as home to any number of "temperature sensitive" animals placed in immediate danger as Woodland Park sporadically lost power and its generators failed.
According to the Seattle zoo's spokesperson Lauri Hennessey, most animals that lived near where the fire broke out were, in some form or fashion, considered "temperature sensitive" in nature.
Fortunately, the zoo's fire was contained and power was restored.
The blaze is believed to have broken out around 3:25 p.m. local time yesterday in one of its shut-down buildings, although no cause has been identified. Officials believe, per the Seattle Times, that the Woodland Park Zoo's fire actually originated in the attic of the zoo's former "Night Exhibit" for nocturnal animals. That building, which the zoo closed in 2010 due to budget cuts, has since been labeled as "under renovation."
The location, which fortunately did not currently serve as home to any animals, was earmarked to be reopened in 2018.Despite the frantic nature of the evacuation process for nearby zoo animals, as well as those that had to be moved do to power-related issues, zoo officials expressed relief that the fire did not have far more costly -- or deadly -- ramifications for its residents.
In fact, far more pressing than the actual fire damage to the zoo's abandoned building were the effects that the fire may have had in other areas of the park. This includes creatures such as reptiles and amphibians that had to be moved very quickly and efficiently, because of their close dependence on their strictly monitored climate habitats.
For other zoo animals, the threat of smoke inhalation from the fire posed just as serious of an issue.
Other at-risk zoo inhabitants included dozens of residents of the nearby adjacent building that housed Woodland Park Zoo's "Day Exhibit." These zoo animals, likewise, had to be moved in spite of the unlikelihood that the fire might spread to their building as well. A total of 200 animals in the Day Exhibit alone were directly affected.
For all animals who call Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo home, in fact, there was some concern.
"The safety of our animals and guests is our number one priority," Woodland Park Zoo officials told Seattle's KIRO 7 in a statement about the fire.
Meanwhile, the humans who came to fight the potentially tragic zoo fire yesterday were also exposed to severe risks. In particular, the Seattle Times noted that at least two of the firefighters who answered the zoo's call for help were injured by the fire with "minor burns." Although further details have not been provided, it is believed that neither firefighter's sustained injuries were very serious.
After all, recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed out that firefighting is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country.
"The two primary events or exposures resulting in fatal occupational injuries to firefighters... were fires (36 percent) and transportation incidents (29 percent). Half of the... fatal fire events were associated with a collapsing building, structure, or structural elements during the fire. Of the eight fatal transportation incidents, five were due to roadway incidents, two involved pedestrians, and one was the result of an aircraft incident."
As for Woodland Park Zoo, the community is expected to recover. Plans that had been in place for the zoo's annual "Wild Lights" holiday light display, which had been scheduled for Thursday evening, were canceled in light of the nearly tragic fire.
[Featured Image by David McNew/Getty Images]