INDIANAPOLIS — The two-story barn at Rosie’s Southside Animal Shelter is in ruins after a fire burnt it to the ground Monday.

”We’re a nonprofit, completely donation operated, and the barn housed all of our donations,” said Bryce Brady, the shelter manager.

The barn made up almost all of the storage for the shelter, not to mention laundry and pretty much everything else the shelter needs.

“It’s a lot, it’s a lot,” Brady said. “It almost feels like we’re starting over again.”

Around 1 a.m. Monday, Indianapolis firefighters found the barn engulfed in flames. The fire was so hot it melted and damaged buildings around it.

”If it kept on going unchecked, based on how intense that radiant heat was, I don’t doubt we would have lost all the building on the property,” Brady said.

The closest building to the barn is where the administration and cat intake is. The siding facing the fire was melted off by the fire. Inside that building are dozens of cats.

”Just so, so lucky, if you take a look at the north edge of the house, you’ll see how close it was to going up,” Brady said. “It was minutes from actually just being engulfed, which would have been horrific, we would have lost so many cats.”

Brady said it appears no animals were hurt in the fire. Those who were in the most danger were the 15 feral cats that slept in the now-burnt-down barn.

”As of today, we have accounted for just about every feral cat that we have roaming the property,” he said. “So it’s been a good morning, kind of a good note to a very bad 48 hours.”

Since 1994, the shelter has brought in stray dogs and cats who were at risk of being euthanized or having trouble being adopted. It was founded by Rosie Ellison.

”She had a very specific mission and that mission was to rescue at-risk animals,” Brady said.

Brady said they’re trying to keep on serving the roughly 80 dogs and cats with them right now. But there is uncertainty thanks to water damage in the basement of the administration building, they’re waiting on an inspection.

“For all we know, the flooding in the basement could be a reason they say, ‘You need to vacate this building,'” Brady said.

Brady said if they do have to move the animals in that building, they will reach out to other shelters for help.

”To have a major disruption like this just makes everything harder to do,” he said.

The shelter has already seen support in so many ways – from people bringing by donations to more than $14,000 raised since Monday night.

“I’m trying not to get teary-eyed but the community output is pretty impressive,” Brady said.

A storage company has loaned a 40-foot portable storage unit to the shelter for free. This is where they are storing all of the donations. Brady said the Southside Animal Shelter Facebook page has a list of everything they need right now, but a few items are:

  • Large laundry baskets
  • Bleach
  • Mops
  • Brooms
  • 13-gallon trash bags
  • Large food trays and
  • Laundry detergent.

The shelter also credited a man for first noticing the fire and calling 911. Brady said all they knew about the man was that he is a truck driver who works near the shelter.

”He went outside, smelled the smoke, drove around the block, saw the fire, called it in,” Brady said.

Not only that, they believe the man rushed onto the property to make sure no one was on the grounds and unaware of the fire.

“Then kicked in the door to the dog room to make sure no one was inside,” he said. “We’re assuming to make sure no one was inside.”

Brady was actively looking to connect with the man in order to thank him. The man has since reached out to Brady after this story aired.

”I’d obviously shake the man’s hand, that’s a given,” Brady said. “And then just thank him for being observant and doing the right thing about it.”

Brady said without this man calling 911 and the firefighters rushing to the scene, Brady knows the situation would have been much worse.

”We definitely would have lost the house and the 40 cats inside,” he said.

Animals at Rosie’s Southside Animal Shelter are still up for adoption during this time, if you would like to adopt you can schedule an appointment on the website.