170,000 Laboratory Animals Die in Blaze

Associated Press

An estimated 170,000 animals died in a medical laboratory fire, a California Department of Forestry official said Sunday.

The fire broke out Saturday at Simonsen Laboratories in Gilroy and destroyed a 30,000-square-foot building, said Fire Capt. Nancy Koerperich.

The laboratory breeds laboratory animals in sterile environments for sale to medical researchers.

"There were 170,000 animals killed--rats, mice, guinea pigs," Koerperich said.

She estimated the damage at $3.5 million.

The laboratory, about 30 miles south of San Jose, was picketed for a week in April by more than two dozen animal rights activists belonging to a group called In Defense of Animals, but Koerperich said there was no evidence of arson.

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