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The Daily Tar Heel

Rewards Offered to Spark Leads Into Shelter Arson

Three baby squirrels, a rabbit and a ferret were killed as a result of the fire, according to a release from the Humane Society of the United States.

The release also stated that the Humane Society is offering a $2,500 reward for information on anyone involved in the fire.

The fire caused more than $10,000 damage. Fire Marshal Caprice Mellon said the fire was set intentionally and the matter is under further investigation.

The release stated that the fire was caused by the explosion of a 20-pound propane tank. Four of the animals died immediately in the explosion and one squirrel died a few days later.

No humans were hurt, although Assistant General Manager Bart Willis was alone in the building at the time of the fire.

Mondy Lamb, director of public relations for the Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the group is offering a reward of $1,000 to anyone with "any information that will find anyone responsible for the fire."

Lamb said the reward money that is being offered comes from a fund established by the nonprofit organization for investigation into animal cruelty. The fund is named after a former victim of animal abuse, she said.

"We have what's known as a Buster Award Fund," Lamb said. "Buster was a dog that was horribly abused and lived to tell the tale. Some people specifically earmark money for cruelty investigation. This is the first time we've had to use these funds in this manner."

Lamb also said the Wake County SPCA is also offering emotional help to the shelter.

"We're here for moral support," she said. "Any support we can give, any way we possibly can."

Pat Sanford, Orange County Animal Shelter director, said that although no new information involving the case has become available, investigators are following several leads.

Sanford said she remains optimistic the reward money will provide an incentive to help find those responsible.

"We're hoping that this will bring more information in to help investigators, and to resolve the investigation," Sanford said. "Both the police and Fire Department are working jointly to investigate and hopefully bring this to a close."

Sanford said that although the shelter does have a security system, it was turned off the night of the arson because a worker was in the building. She said no drastic security measures will be taken, but that the use of more security cameras is being considered.

Sanford also said that despite the incident, operations at the clinic are running as normal. The one exception is the wildlife room, which was destroyed in the fire, causing minor operational problems.

She said it would be several weeks before the room is repaired but said she hopes everything is resolved quickly.

"The sooner this is brought to a close, the better for everyone."

The City Editor can be reached

at citydesk@unc.edu.

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