O’FALLON, Ill. — The leader of an animal rescue where a quick-spreading fire destroyed a farmhouse, killing two cats, said Monday that more than $17,000 has been donated to help him rebuild.
“I don’t know how to describe how fast it went up in flames,” Randy Grim, who founded Randy’s Rescue Ranch two years ago, said of the fire that burned down a nearly 200-year-old house.
He was asleep in a building next to the house when firefighters woke him shortly before 11 p.m. Friday. A passerby had reported flames.
Grim joined responding police officers and firefighters who went into the burning building to save five dogs, including two that were paralyzed.
But two elderly cats, Gumball and the three-legged Thumper, died in the fire.
“I was holding out hope on them making it. I was hoping they got out somehow, but they didn’t,” Grim said.
The rescue sits on 20 acres at 1400 East Highway 50. It initially was a horse rescue and “assisted living and hospice home” for dogs from Stray Rescue, which Grim founded in 1998 but has since left.
Randy’s Rescue Ranch now takes in other animals, including pigs and donkeys, from other pounds and rescue groups as well.
The farmhouse that burned is the Katy Favre House, which was home to elderly, disabled and terminally ill animals unlikely to be adopted.
“This is a safe place where they get a normal life and a good life,” Grim said. “Actually, they get the most spoiled life.”
O’Fallon fire Chief Brad White said the blaze likely was caused by an outdoor light that caught fire and blew into the attic.
”With the wind, there was not much we could do,” he said.
White described the building as a total loss and expects it will be knocked down.
Grim, who suffered a thoracic aortic aneurysm last year, was recovering from surgery on his left leg when the fire broke out and is using a cane. Blood had collected in his leg after he was kicked by a blind horse as he led it to a pasture.
On Monday, he said he was grateful for the help he had received and that other animals didn’t perish.
Said Grim, “I count my blessings because I could have lost all of them.”
Donations are being accepted at randysrescueranch.org.