Sylvester business is saved from fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sylvester business is saved from fire

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

January 23, 2009

SYLVESTER, GA (WALB) - Maria Hughes remembers getting the call from the Fire Department Tuesday night.

"They called and said that the embers were blowing and the winds had changed, and they were a little nervous about it hitting our barn, saud Hughes.

The barn at the Sylvester Animal Hospital is attached to the kennel where 12 dogs were staying. And the hospital is right next door to the Farm Commodities Peanut Company warehouse, and it was on fire. Maria knew what she had to do.

"I raced down here to come and evacuate the animals," she said.

In fact, Maria and the rest of the employees at the hospital had to evacuate the animals, not once but twice. After bringing the animals back Tuesday night, by Wednesday morning: "the smoke was so bad, they asked us to evacuate the building and to take the animals out, because they did not want them to have respiratory issues," Hughes said.

Even though the hospital itself had to be evacuated, the employees were still able to do their part to help out.

"After battling the blaze at the peanut warehouse all night long, the weary firefighters from around South Georgia needed a place to rest and the hospital was able to lend them a helping hand."

They opened up a building that normally serves as a grooming parlor for dogs, for relief efforts.

"They were calling in the Red Cross for the firefighters to have coffee, gatorades and water to get them refreshed because they had been out here for several hours," said Hughes.

In addition to serving as a place to rest, this building served another purpose as well.

Hughes said that, "they used that as their headquarters."

By Thursday afternoon, the fire was finally out. Friday morning, the cleanup began, and the animals were finally able to make their way back to the hospital. Hughes and the staff were grateful for the quick response of the firefighters.

"The fire department was wonderful," said Hughes.

Certainly, there are many people who would agree with that.

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