Nov 24, 2015

Saturday fire claims family’s business, six dogs

A Cody couple who trains service dogs lost six of their animals, their business and their future home in a Saturday morning fire.

Michael and Denae Thomas had recently purchased a facility on Cody’s Rumsey Avenue that they planned to use for their dog training business, Total Family K-9. The Thomases were also renovating an apartment in the facility to be their residence.

But then, on Saturday morning, “the most (awful) thing I can imagine happened,” Denae Thomas said in a later Facebook post.

A GoFundMe page, shown on Nov. 24, has been set up to support the Thomases.
She and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter were staying with family in Greybull that night, while Michael Thomas went to a friend’s house after a late night of renovation work.

While they were away, a heater apparently set a part of a basement wall on fire, Cody Fire Marshal Sam Wilde told Cody News Company on Tuesday. Wilde said the material in the wall had become more susceptible to catching on fire because of years of “pyrolysis” — a process in which organic materials like wood breakdown as they’re exposed to heat. He said the basement heater had apparently been running “pretty hot” with the recent cold weather.

Around 3 a.m., a Cody police officer out on patrol saw the Rumsey Avenue building on fire. The Cody Volunteer Fire Department extinguished the majority of the blaze by 4:30 a.m.

The six dogs that died in the fire ranged in age between eight months and 2 years old.

“My heart (is) breaking. We are devastated. I don’t know how we will get past this,” Denae Thomas posted on Facebook.

The Thomases did not yet have insurance on the building. A family friend, Wade French, said their losses total close to $80,000 in belongings, tools and dog training equipment.

French has started an online fundraising campaign for the family at www.gofundme.com/nhbm8mq4.

“Please help this wonderful young family if you can. They are (truly) in need now, especially during this holiday season,” French wrote.

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