On Thursday, January 18th around midnight, a torrential fire blazed through the main breeding facility at Nanez Family Lofts. By the time we even realized there was a fire, the building was already 90% enveloped by the inferno. My son Chris, our neighbor Terry and I (Rick) labored to attempt to rescue some of the flock. With our jackets literally melting on our bodies, we ripped aviary doors off and tried to ‘herd’ birds toward the openings. It was dark and the temperature was hovering around zero. These birds had never experienced flying freely; thus, combined with the terror that they were facing, few found their way to freedom.

The nightmarish snapshots of my little friends with faces pressed against the wire, beaks gaping open, horror in their eyes and torched tails and wings—these snapshots are carved onto the table of my conscience. Two birds made it out completely unscathed. They both, however, were run over upon the arrival of the first firetruck. When all was said and done, we used a shovel to chisel them out of the ice, seeing that neither had been burned—and then, reading their bands. They were two of our foundation cocks: “Air Captain” and (Ironically) “Frozen Fire.”

Approximately 30-35 of 750 survived the ordeal. Many of these having had their tails and wings burned to the nub. Others lost one eye; the eye exposed to the blaze. The few that made it up into the trees sat 40-60 feet in the canopy, swaying in the -15 to -22 windchilled breezes for 2-3 nights and then vanished one by one by…….  It has been one heartbreak after another.

We’ve been waiting for an official report from the investigators before releasing our own personal statement. As of today (Thursday, January 25th), the case has been closed. A faulty electrical outlet seems to be the origin of the mayhem; the outlet just below the individual breeding compartment of my dear little girlfriend ‘Kavorka’- my pet and #1 stock daughter of “Iron Clad.” Iron Clad and Mind on Fire suffered the same fate, as they too were in individual breeding compartments in the office.

In all, we’ve lost approximately $2 million worth of pigeons; the crème de la crème; 90-95 direct children of Iron Clad included. We do have pigeons left here in other lofts. However, 98% of these are not of equal value to those lost; it will take several of these to equal what we sell kids of Iron Clad for. Our insurance will only cover 30% of what the main loft is valued at. At this point, we are negotiating with them over contents coverage. Of course, none of us in the industry can garner any coverage on the birds lost.

We started the business in order to support missions, humanitarian works and non-profits. It is hard to see a path forward at this point to continue in that endeavor. However, a couple of dozen friends have asked if we would start a Go-Fund-Me account. It is much much easier to give than receive; however, we have decided to acquiesce and allow a friend to organize such an account.

We are profoundly humbled by and greatly appreciative of the immense response of compassion and concern that we’ve received in 5 short (long) days. God’s blessings to all who have kept us in their thoughts and prayers.



Rick, Reneé, Joe and Chris