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Community effort saves 12 pets in veterinary clinic fire

Jul 19, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk and Andrea Novotny

Authorities say the Lander facility sustained "pretty severe damage" to the roof and attic.

Six dogs and six cats were saved from a structure fire July 9 at the Wind River Veterinary Clinic in Lander.

No people or animals were injured in the blaze, which was reported at about 11:40 p.m. July 9 at the clinic, 108 Tweed Lane. Fremont County Fire Protection District deputy chief Dan Oakley said the fire began at a pump house or well house on the property and jumped to the roof of the clinic building.

"It spread to the attic and spread to the clinic," Oakley said Wednesday.

Firefighters reportedly had control of the blaze within 30 minutes of the emergency call. When they arrived, officials said the fire had spread to the main portion of the clinic and was burning in the space between the ceiling and the roof. They attempted to stop the spread of the fire, but flames continued into the attic space of the older portion of the main building.

The facility still is standing, Oakley said, but it did sustain "pretty severe damage" to the roof and attic areas. A lot of veterinary equipment also was damaged by smoke and water and will have to be replaced, officials said.

The cause of the shed fire is undetermined pending further investigation by the Lander Volunteer Fire Department.

Pet Connection

Oakley said the dozen animals at the clinic already were outside of the building when he arrived on scene. LVFD administrator Nick Hudson said the cats and dogs were rescued from the facility by two Lander Police Department officers and residents Alex Bone and Jake Brody, who reported the fire.

"They are to be commended for their bravery," Hudson said.

Oakley said the animals were housed July 9 through the Lander Pet Connection, a local group that rescues stray and abandoned animals. Some of the animals at the vet clinic were strays, Oakley said, but many also belong to local residents.

Clinic owner Rich Boulette thanked Bone, Brody and area officials "for all they did" to help save his business. Boulette said his clinic will be closed until further notice, though he may open a small temporary office where he could offer almost all of his previous services. Boulette said surgeries likely would not be possible from a temporary office.

"I'm sorry I can't fulfill (my clients') needs right now," he said.

Twenty-seven firefighters used about 11 pieces of apparatus to extinguish the flames at the clinic, officials said. Most firefighters had cleared the scene by about 3 a.m. July 12. Responding departments included the Lander Volunteer Fire Department, Lander Rural Fire Department, Lander Police Department, Lander Ambulance Division, and the Fremont County Sheriff's Office.

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