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Bird Sanctuary Reeling After Fatal Fire

One of the buildings at the Petersburgh, New York, bird sanctuary

A Petersburgh, New York bird sanctuary is recovering from a deadly fire last week.

Elizabeth Dubacher is the daughter of Peter Dubacher, who founded Berkshire Bird Paradise in 1972. The center houses and rehabilitates injured birds deemed unreleasable to the wild. She says that on the day of the fire, a man dropping off a bird noticed the smoke coming from the parrot house.

“My father, myself, the fire department, police, EMTs, all of us just rushed in there and were able to get as many birds out as we possibly could. Unfortunately, we did have a few casualties.”

It’s unclear if a parrot knocked over a heat lamp or if an electrical fire broke out due to a technical issue. Peter Dubacher was hospitalized due to smoke inhalation. The parrot house cost $250,000 to erect, and contained at least $100,000 worth of now damaged equipment. Berkshire Bird Paradise launched a GoFundMe account to raise money for repairs while its insurance company deliberates over the payoff. So far, it’s raised $11,000.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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