USA – NAPLES, Fla. (WFLA) A brush fire in Collier County forced thousands of people from their homes and threatened to engulf the NGALA Wildlife Preserve in Naples, which houses dozens of exotic animals.
NGALA said all of the animals had to be evacuated and the parks president and CEO, Donovan Smith reportedly suffered second-degree burns on 20 percent of his body, as he tried to help save a rhinoceros named Walter.
Brush fire prompts evacuation at wildlife sanctuary
NGALA Wildlife Preserve
The evacuations started on April 21 and the animals were taken to shelters in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties. They returned two days later to damaged homes.
Smith had to have surgery at Tampa General Hospital around that time and wrote on Facebook it was worth enduring the pain to protect my animals! From the bottom of my Heart Thank You!
As of Wednesday, the brush fire had torched more than 7,000 acres in Collier County and was 75 percent contained. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Our hearts and love for all the animals and NGALA Wild Preserve keep us going we have a long road ahead of us but are up to the challenge!, the park said on social media.
A GoFundMe campaign was set up to help support the sanctuary following the fire.