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Hundreds of animals perish in winter wildfires in small CO communities

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Posted at 3:22 PM, Feb 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-17 17:22:57-05

LONGMONT, Colo. — Hundreds of animals perished in Colorado amid a winter wildfire spurred by fierce wind in a Front Range community. 

Heat and wind created the perfect storm on Friday, Feb. 10, leading to downed power lines that sparked grass fires that would carry for acres due to winds.

Hundreds of homes were evacuated, but animals trapped in the crosshairs met the end of the line. Many of those deaths happened at the ordinarily quiet Frog Belly Farm of Longmont. 

Frog Belly Farm is a sprawling property which played host to the educational community and more as a working organic farm. Owners weren't yet ready to speak about the fires, however those with ties to the acreage detailed the fatal fire.

At least 10 buildings on the farm, including one that played host to two families as a converted apartment, crumbled with flames licking at their sides.

Tony Loverde, a farmhand who lived in one of the converted apartments, said he and his significant other are without a home, but the loss pales in comparison to the loss of life.

The farm lost 27 goats, nearly 80 chickens and seven pigs. The few animals that did survive either meandered around the farm or were given medical attention. 

One lucky pig, which recently gave birth to seven piglets, had a stroke of luck when firefighters opted to pull her from the rubble of one building. Her piglets didn't have the same luck. Only one would survive. 

That pig and her piglet were reunited at the Boulder County Fairground where they're currently being housed together.

"We're just in the process of recovery," Loverde said of the three families that lived on the farm. "They're our friends that we consider our family; the impact on them is devastating."

Loverde and his significant other are one of two families displaced — the main home on the farm was spared. He spoke to the impact the farm has had on the community.

"There was a real openness to the community for people to have a lot of first experiences," Loverde said of those who visited. "School enrichment programs, lots of weddings, gathering and celebration." 

Those impacted by the farm have reached out to help. 

Annie Miller, who is a family friend of those at the farm, said she has since visited amid the recovery efforts. Through those efforts, she's grown her family. 

Miller had the opportunity to adopt a cat that survived the blaze.

"She was on the property when the current owners bought the land. She survived a flood out there, now she survived the fire.

When Miller went back to visit, the cat  — now named Sufi — was on her mind. 

"We weren't sure if she made it. Somebody found her out in one of the fields. Her paws are pretty badly burned, her fur is all singed," 

But Miller has since brought her new cat to the Boulder Humane Society, which helped to treat Sufi.

"For the most part she's a really tough cat. They said she's going to be fine." 

Growing efforts to help those impacted.

As more in the community learn about the farm's hardship, support has grown for the owners of the farm and those who are now out of house and home.

Collectively, the community has raised at least 70,000 through three separate online fundraising campaigns.

Those interested in assisting can visit the fundraisers. 

For the farm fundraiser, click here.

For Loverde's fundraiser, click here.

For the final fundraiser, click here. 

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