ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Several animals perished early Monday morning when fire swept through the Second Chance Wildlife Sanctuary near Bithlo.
According to Orange County Fire Rescue, the fire at 805 Baron Road broke out just before 1:30 Monday morning. Homeowner and Second Chance founder Jim Bronzo said he was asleep in an upstairs bedroom when he was awakened by peacocks on the property. He was able to save a few of the animals inside the home and get out safely, but at least two dozen animals died.
Neighbors called 911 as Bronzo tried to save animals which include llamas, snakes, turtles, and other species. Cell phone video captured by a neighbor showed flames shooting 30 feet into the air just before 2 a.m. Another photo showed Bronzo carrying out one dog, named Yoshi, out of the home. He was the only one of four dogs to survive the fire.
According to Bronzo, there were 240 animals at the sanctuary. 33 died, including 4 giant tortoises, snakes, and parrots. The first floor of the home is where most of the animals lived.
Later on Monday, more surviving animals were found, including a baby raccoon named Camille. She emerged from the rubble. Two llamas have also been spotted grazing in the neighborhood. There are still 41 animals unaccounted for.
Only parts of the wooden frame at the sanctuary are standing.
Bronzo has spent nearly 40 years rescuing and caring for animals, including tortoises, swans, and llamas. Unfortunately, Bronzo only had insurance on the house and not the things inside. He says that he had a lot of artwork in the home.
Bronzo will need help rebuilding after this tragic incident. A GoFundMe has been created with this intention. More than $8,300 has already been raised.
The Florida Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is looking into the cause of the fire. The Red Cross is also assisting the vicitm. Orange County Animal Control has been notified.