564 Sheep Perish in Devastating Nighttime Blaze
By Charles Kelley
LOS ANGELES, California – I bring terrible news. In the middle of the night this past Monday, unseen by any known witnesses, the sheep barn at Eagle’s Wings burned to the ground. The cause is not yet known, but it looks to be electrically related.
When the shepherds last checked on the flock, before turning in for the night, 648 Mutton Merino sheep were safely in the barn. When the men returned to feed them the next morning, they arrived to shocking sight.
A few hours later Dan Roth recalled, “The guys discovered what happened when they went up to do the morning feeding. I felt shock and numbness. And drove to the barn. It was terrible!”
Though the final police reports confirming the cause of the disaster have not been completed, Diks Bortnikovs says, “We cannot say for sure who was really to blame for it all, but we would not want to think that it could be arson.”
He believes the fire started because of defective wiring. Once begun, the fire spread rapidly as an abundance of dried hay had been laid down nearly everywhere.
The grim work of cleaning the site by removing the debris and dead animals was daunting. Imagine the pain of the workers who have known, played with, cared for and raised each and every sheep. As they tore down what was left of the 12,000 square foot barn, they also did what they had to do…often with tears in their eyes.
Yesterday about 15 workers and volunteers worked, shoulder-to-shoulder, separating the animals from the rubble. They then piled the dead, forming two huge mountains, which await transfer to big trucks for further transport to a state approved place.
“I went up to the barn,” said Katie Roth, “and the sight and smell was terrible. I don’t know how they can work there all day. But they are tough men.”
“We are all in shock,” says Katie, “and would value prayers at this difficult time. We need to mourn our loss, recover our strength and make wise decisions about the future.”
So what of the future? The team is putting together a plan to rebuild. The amount of the loss is about $225,000. The amount to replace everything is quite a lot more and I will keep everyone informed of the plan to rebuild and restore.
In the mean time, during this Passion Week, as we celebrate the Good Shepherd who gave His life for His sheep, let’s also pray for Diks, Inita, Dan, Katie, Janis, Aelita, Zigurds, Edgars and others, so that in the final analysis it will be clearly evident how God will be glorified.
I will write more next week.
Photo Gallery – Photos courtesy of skaties.com and Dan Roth.