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Barn housing exotic pets catches fire in Southwest Ranches, authorities say

Owner believes lightning may have sparked fire

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SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. – A barn housing hundreds of exotic pets caught fire Tuesday afternoon in Southwest Ranches, authorities said.

The fire was reported at Blake's Exotic Animal Ranch in the area of Southwest 178th Avenue and 46th Street.

"I just saw a whole bunch of flames shooting up from the barn," one witness said. 

Davie Fire Rescue officials said the barn was 60 percent engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

They said numerous exotic animals were being housed in the barn, including some turtles, fish and other small animals. 

The owner, who has had the property for about seven years, said hundreds of animals were killed in the fire.

"I lost about 300 tortoises and turtles that were in that area and a bunch of exotic fish. If you go back there now, there's tortoises in pieces. It looks like a wildfire happened in my backyard," Blake Kaldirimoglu said. 

Firefighters said they were being careful walking near the barn in case any of the animals got loose.  

The cause of the fire is under investigation, although Kaldirimoglu believes lightning might have sparked the fire. 

Authorities confirmed thunderstorms were in the area at the time of the fire.

Friends and loved ones have started a GoFundMe page to help Kaldirimoglu rebuild.


About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.