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Animals Killed in Suspicious Fire

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HENDERSON — Police in Vance County are investigatinga suspicious fire that killed several animals Monday. The blaze killednine puppies and destroyed an office belonging to Nick Ferrio and hisfamily.

The Ferrios make their living training dogs, and also ownseveral exotic animals. Included in the menagerie are two Siberian tigers,two African lions and a pair of timber wolves. Nick Ferrio says they planto eventually open a zoo.

The fire broke out at about 11 p.m. Monday in a back room of Ferrio'shome. That's where he had set up a makeshift office. It's also where thenine puppies were killed.

Police say neighbors didn't want the animalsliving so close to their homes. That fact, plus clues found at thescene of the fire, have police searching for a possible arsonist.

Neighbor Algie Tingen said he worries about the animals, but wouldrather solve the problems with words.

Also Monday night, Vance County Commissioners passed an ordinanceprohibiting zoos. Ferrio believes the new ruling will have no effect onhim based on a letter he got from the county attorney in February. Hedoes, however, plan to watch his property carefully.

Ferrio has now moved some of his animals to safer locations. He says hehasn't decided if he will still plan to open the zoo.