NEWCASTLE, CA (KCRA) — An animal sanctuary near Auburn is suffering a major loss. Dozens of its creatures died in an early morning barn fire Sunday.
“I saw that it was 3:30 in the morning … so I held my breath when I answered the phone,” said Melyssa Descovich, director of the Enchanted Forest Exotic Animal Sanctuary, as she described the phone call she received from a neighbor who lives on the next property over to the sanctuary. “She told me that the whole barn was engulfed in flames.”
That barn burned to the ground. The 40 animals that lived inside all perished in the flames.
For 14 years, Descovich ran a tortoise rescue. Back in March, realizing a need to help other types of animals, Descovich took a friend up on the offer of the use of some land in Newcastle. She then started taking in and eventually rehoming other creatures that came to her when they couldn’t be cared for by their owners for one reason or another.
“These animals have come to us through a crisis like a fire or death in the family,” said Descovich. “On a quiet week we’ll get five animals. On a busy week we’ll get 30 or more.”
She and her husband recently opened the sanctuary to the public so families could experience up-close encounters with various animals. The two have plans to eventually open a sanctuary on their own land in Colfax. For the moment their focus is caring for the 25 animals that survived the fire.
They are heartened by the ways their community is stepping up to help.
“We had just bought $900 worth of food the day before and it was all stored in the barn and it’s all gone,” Descovich said. “We’ve been very blessed to have people volunteer and bring food for the animals.”
Others called to offer to lend a hand — cleaning up the property — when that day comes.
There’s still a lot to process for Descovich, and not a firm plan just yet for what’s next.
“I just haven’t even been able to stop my head spinning today and think about anything other than the importance of saving the animals that made it and respectfully burying the ones that did not,” she said.
The cause of the barn fire at the sanctuary is still under investigation.
Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.