Animal centre suffers yet another setback after fire

Montrose Skills Hub in Wigan
Montrose Skills Hub in Wigan

A Wigan apprenticeship firm is reeling from an electrical blaze at its animal centre, just months after vandals were responsible for the death of several animals.

The ProCo Northwest skills hub on Montrose Avenue was affected last week after one of its reptile tanks caught fire.

A rescue operation for dozens of small animals had to be launched by firefighters after smoke began to fill the training centre.

Tanks containing lizards and spiders, and rabbit enclosures, had to be removed from a classroom at the Montrose Skills Hub after it became filled with smoke at around 9.30pm on Friday September 22.

An electrical fault in heating or lighting components for one of the reptile tanks is thought to have sparked the incident, which was first noticed by a caretaker.

A spokesman for the Montrose Avenue centre said talks had taken place with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service following the fire, to discuss how to best prevent similar events occurring in future.

They also confirmed that a small number of animals had died as a result of the incident, but that most had been rescued safely.

On its Facebook page, ProCo issued a statement saying: "The fire started in The Hive, this is where some of our animals are housed.

"Emergency services were called and arrived at the site a few minutes after the fire started.

"The fire was contained and did not spread to any other areas. Once the fire was out, ProCo staff and the fire brigade began a rescue operation to get out all the animals that were affected.

"We would like to say a massive thank you to all staff that attended that evening."

The statement went on to thank the emergency services "for doing a brilliant job."

Fire crews revealed that due to an electrical fault, the plastic casing around two of the reptile tanks had overheated and caused the fire.

It is another unfortunate setback for the farm, which offers apprenticeships in animal care.

Staff were left devastated over the summer after a break-in caused the death of several beloved animals.

Vandals callously trashed the farm and tipped over several cages.

Many animals were released in the open, where they were preyed upon by a larger animal, believed to be a fox.

One rabbit, three ducks, two chickens and at least 25 birds were killed, and many surviving animals were left extremely frightened and distressed by their ordeal.