FALKVILLE, Ala. - They couldn't save them all. A family in Cullman County lost hundreds of their animals in a fire on Tuesday morning. The fire burned a large chicken house that neighbors say had hundreds of dogs, chickens and other animals inside. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Alabama fire marshal's office told WHNT News 19 the fire was accidental.
"I got up about 6:15 a.m. Something didn't smell right," Falkville resident John Powell said.
The smell of smoke and haze in the air on Tuesday morning was enough to make Powell suspicious.
"We heard the fire truck this morning, it came down this road right here," Falkville resident Tammy Champion said.
Firefighters rushed to the home on County Road 1223, where neighbors say a large chicken house burned to the ground.
"She's got a right to be upset," Powell said.
WHNT News 19 was not allowed onto the property. Neighbors say the chicken house, owned by Sheila Johnson and her family, was where she'd been raising hundreds of animals.
"They've been doing this for a long time," Powell said.
"They had pigeons, quails, doves," Falkville resident Dave Chaney said.
"White legged chickens, rabbits," Champion said.
One silver lining for the Johnson family, many of her animals were spared from the fire, including ponies, sheep, chickens, and ducks. Powell says he believes Sheila was able to save about 50 of her dogs from the fire.
"I love my dog, I know she loved every one of them," Powell said.
"I feel sorry for Sheila, all the animals she lost. I hope she can get it all back," Champion said.
By Tuesday afternoon, many of the animals were roaming the pasture, but neighbors and Cullman County sheriff's deputies say they're unsure how the fire started.
WHNT News 19 called the state fire marshal's office, who are looking into the cause of the fire along with Cullman County animal control. So far, they haven't responded to our request for information.