More than 50 alpacas die in barn and house fire

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

COLFAX, Wis. (WEAU) -- A little more than 12 hours after a large barn fire, Suzanna Lasee is taking a count of her alpacas.

"Lester made it, I don't see her baby though," she said as she counted.

Yesterday she had 110. But on Sunday, she counted only 45 alpacas standing safe and sound. The others perished when the barn they were staying in went up in a blaze last night.

It happened just after midnight outside of Colfax. Lieutenant Andy Benrud with the Menomonie Fire Department, which has jurisdiction, said four other departments responded as well and fought the blaze until about 5:00 a.m. on Sunday.

"A lot of people are trying to help us, I think I still don't believe it, we love these animals so much," she said.

Suzanna Lasee and Mike Schmit run the Rising Sun Alpaca farm. They say they were out in Colfax last night and on their way home when they could see a large fire in the distance.

What is anyone's worst nightmare suddenly became their reality.

They were just finishing a new addition to the barn and building a house on top of it.

"When you don't have insurance and your money is gone, it's a new world," Mike Schmit said.

Cats, parrots, and fish were also inside and died when the fire broke out. And just as fast as the fire happened, now comes a new concern: how to help the animals that survived.

"We're trying to get water running and electrical out so we can water our alpacas, and we need feed," Lasee said.

They're hoping others can help with some basic necessities like food, even water.

Schmit lost his hand in a fireworks accident last week. And both say they physically, mentally, and financially cannot keep up the business anymore.

"Ultimately that's our top priority right now is that the animals are taken care of, we'd like to sell them first but if not we just wanna make sure we can place them," she added.

And so as Suzanne and Mike count the alpacas, tough as it may be, they are also counting their blessings.

Benrud says the cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Red Cross is assisting.

For more information about the Rising Sun Alpaca Farm, click here.

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