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Over 60 exotic animals killed in 'devastating' fire at Metro Vancouver rescue society

"While we are heartbroken we are all working 24/7 to care for the animals who survived this devastating event."

Operators of a Metro Vancouver exotic animal rescue say more than 60 of the creatures in its care perished in a fire Saturday morning.

The blaze went up early in the morning of January 28, according to the Urban Safari Rescue Society's Facebook page

A representative for the Surrey Fire Service said the call came in at 8:54 Saturday morning, and 18 firefighters responded. 

"Crews made entry into the building and found light to moderate smoke conditions," according to the Surrey Fire Service. "There was a fire contained to a heating unit located in one of the animal cages."

After extinguishing what SFS calls a "small fire," crews "ventilated the building, and removed several reptile cages."

"The fire started when the power came back on at some point last night," stated the animal rescue organization on its Facebook page Saturday. "It came back with a surge that overpowered the surge protector that was powering a snake tank. The ensuing smouldering fire filled the room with smoke and soot.  Many animals perished.  Firefighters, police, staff and volunteers rescued many animals."  

SFS could not confirm the blaze was tied to a power surge.

"While we are heartbroken we are all working 24/7 to care for the animals who survived this devastating event," stated the rescue organization.

The Urban Safari Rescue Society, located at 1395 176 St in Surrey, is "a registered non-profit society dedicated to the rescue and care of exotic animals and to educating the public about animals, their environments and the natural world."

Founder Gary Oliver, who launched Cinemazoo, "the first animal agency in Canada, humanely training and supplying animals for the film, TV and still photography business," in the 1980s, began the Urban Safari Rescue Society in 2007. Today, they care for about 350 animals.

Animal rescue seeks donations

Saturday's fire has left the non-profit in need of assistance, both financial and goods and equipment. 

"Currently, we are in need of any donations such as food, substrates, heat/UV lights, large and mid-size enclosures," notes the organization, along with "temporary homes for some animals who need more intensive care."

To that end, a GoFundMe campaign has been re-shaped to focus on fire recovery efforts. 

"Thank you for all that you do for the precious animals. Terrible news about the fire. My heart breaks for the animals," writes one donor. 

The Urban Safari Rescue Society is closed for the time being. The organization says it may ultimately need to relocate.