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Barn owl rescued from furnace on road to recovery in northern Utah

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah -- Tuesday Fox 13 reported on the bizarre story of a barn owl found trapped for hours in an industrial furnace vent, and now the owl is in serious condition and the Division of Wildlife Services is trying to get the word out so this doesn't happen again.

Last week the bird was found at a business in Brigham City. One of the workers said the owl broke through the vent cover on the roof and got stuck in the furnace and was likely in there for hours.

“I hear this weird screeching, clunking noise," Logan Robinette said. "I can hear it louder and louder. So I come in and I can hear it's coming from in here.”

After taking a closer look inside the furnace, Robinette spotted the barn owl, camouflaged in soot.

“We started to bring her out slowly," Robinette said. "It took about an hour, an hour and a half. We just kind of brought her out slowly, slowly until we finally grabbed her feet."

But he didn’t think the owl would make it.

“She was covered in soot, just black; it was a mess," he said.

DWR personnel took the owl to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah.

“It's heart-wrenching,” said Jen Dummer, Education Specialist for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. “She wouldn't have lasted another 24 hours in a place like that.”

The owl has chemical burns on her eyes and eyelids from the ash.

“She’s really black," Dummer said. "She couldn't breathe. Her eyes were glued shut so she couldn’t' see."

Despite giving her several baths, the gunk is still stuck in her feathers.

“The day after they came in, we pulled out her towel and it's caked, just caked,” Dummer said.

With antibiotics, love and care, wildlife workers are nursing the owl back to life.

“There’s still a great chance for her to survive,” Dummer said.

The DWR says it’s a reminder to get covers for vents and chimneys.

“They look for an open cavity, and that's what this owl found is an open cavity,” said Phil Douglass, Northern Region Conservation Outreach Manager.

This business says they'll be replacing their cover so it doesn't happen again.

“That was probably one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Robinette said.

While owls might not be a concern at your house, the DWR says small birds can easily get trapped in drying vents this time of year and they’re asking everyone to get covers.

What's not cheap is the expenses to help this owl recover. Those interested in donating to help that effort do so via Facebook or the WRCNU's website.