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May 6, 2021

Cause sought in fire that killed Alabama petting zoo animals

Investigators continue to seek the cause of a fire that destroyed an Alabama petting zoo barn and killed roughly 75 animals.

Park Supervisor Christina Richardson tells The Gadsden Times that Noccalula Falls Park remained closed Monday, partly because of stormy weather, but will reopen by the end of the week.

The Sunday blaze killed birds, turtles, a tortoise, a lemur, baby alligators, snakes, guinea pigs and others housed in the Gadsden city park barn. Animals that lived outside weren’t harmed.

Fire Marshal Jason Talton said determining a cause will be difficult because so much of the structure burned away, but said investigators have seen nothing suspicious so far.

Gadsden Fire Chief Wil Reed said firefighters found the barn engulfed in flames when they arrived early Sunday after someone reported smoke to dispatchers.

The barn had no sprinklers, Richardson said, and the all-wooden structure had flammable hay and feed inside.

Richardson said the city hasn’t decided whether it will rebuild or not.

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