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Discovery Kingdom fire kills giraffe

San Francisco Chronicle

Original Article »

September 05, 2007

Vallejo -- A male giraffe was killed in an early morning blaze at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo that also destroyed the giraffe barn, officials said today.

Two female giraffes had already escaped the blaze when fire crews arrived at the amusement park around 2:15 a.m. to find the giraffe barn fully engulfed in flames, said Vallejo Fire spokesman Bill Tweedy.

"Fire was coming out of all the doors and the roof was gone," Tweedy said. "(Fire crews) suppressed the fire inside the building ... then discovered the third giraffe inside."

Makonnen, the male giraffe, was deceased when firefighters found him, he said. The blaze - reported by drivers on nearby Highway 37 - was out by 2:35 a.m., according to Tweedy.

Tweedy said the 30-foot by 40-foot barn, worth between $50,000 and $100,000, is a complete loss.

Fire investigators determined that the fire was caused by an electrical short in the barn that sent embers flying to the ground, which was covered in hay. The resulting flames quickly spread to the wood structure, he added.

"It burned relatively quickly, and because it's located at the back part of the park it went unnoticed for a while," he said.

The two giraffes that escaped were led further away from the structure by fire officials, Tweedy said.

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