PAPILLION, Neb. --
Papillion firefighters said dozens of animals could have died when a barn caught fire Sunday if not for the heroic actions of a Good Samaritan who happened to be driving by.
Fire crews said the fire started after a sheep named "Bee" head-butted a heat lamp, setting hay on fire.
George Penke said he was driving along a road near the barn when he saw smoke coming from it.
"I saw what appeared to be smoke (coming) out the backside of the building," Penke said.
Penke said he tried calling for help, but his cell phone connection kept cutting out.
So Penke said he rushed right into the burning barn to try to save the trapped animals; but it wasn't that easy.
"The babies ran out and they ran right back to their mothers. They (the sheep) would not leave. At this point, I thought 'God, I need some help,'" Penke said.
Using a spigot and feed buckets, Penke said he decided to just fight the flames himself.
"I'm throwing water in the bucket. I suppose it took maybe 25 to 30 minutes, and I swear, when the last bucket hit the back wall was when the fire department showed up," Penke said.
It wasn't until after the fire was out that Penke said he learned the sheep he saved were not ordinary sheep.
Kathy Mann, the owner of the barn and animals, said she started Love-a-Lot Inc. with her husband to help put smiles on sick children's faces.
"Children are more inclined to want to do more of their physical and occupational therapies with a sheep around," Mann said.
Mann said she "gave George the biggest hug" after learning that her sheep were safe.
"There were animals in that building and I wasn't going to let them perish. It wasn't going to happen," Penke said.
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