SEATTLE -- The fire that broke out in a closed exhibit at Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo Thursday afternoon may have killed six turtles, zoo officials said Friday.
The fire broke out about 3:15 p.m. in the Night Exhibit, which closed in 2010 and did not contain any current exhibits. However, a special room in the basement was used for turtles hibernating in the winter.
Two black-breasted leaf turtles and four Indochinese box turtles had been placed the hibernation chamber and while the building remains too unsafe to enter, zoo officials fear the turtles didn't survive.
“Sadly, it is highly likely that six turtles hibernating in this room have perished in the fire," said Nancy Hawkes, Woodland Park Zoo’s general curator.
Smoke from the fire spread to the adjacent Day Exhibit where 200 amphibians and reptile, including snakes, frogs and tree kangaroos were evacuated by zoo staff.
"Wearing respirator masks for protection from high carbon monoxide levels, staff entered the smoke-engulfed building in pairs while under observation by SFD’s medical team," Zoo officials said in a press release. "Animals, including venomous snakes and dwarf crocodiles, were swiftly transported in warm vehicles to eight locations on zoo grounds."
The zoo was evacuated, and there were no injuries to staff or visitors. One firefighter did suffer minor burns, and a second firefighter suffered an electrical shock. Both were taken to a Seattle hospital where they were treated and released.
Fire officials haven't been able to determine a cause yet, but believe the fire started in the Night Exhibit's basement. Damage is estimated at $1.5 million.
The zoo resumed normal operations Friday.
The Night Exhibit was scheduled to reopen in 2018, using money from a Seattle parks levy. It closed after the impact of the 2009 recession.