Fires raging through Santa Barbara County California since Friday evening have caused devastation to more than 80 acres, displacing thousands of residents and their cherished pets.
As of Tuesday, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department reported that 20 homes and buildings have been destroyed. With temperatures registering at 100 degrees, dry-brush is igniting across the state. Winds can spread the blazing embers at an alarming rate.
Homeowners raced to flee the town of Goleta, CA with flames only a mile from their popular downtown streets.
With infernos still burning Tuesday morning, crews battled numerous fires across the area. Smoke in one elderly gentleman’s mobile home East of town prompted an emergency call for assistance.
#StructureFire-30 Winchester Cyn Rd- Single wide mobile home w moderate damage. 80 yr old male occupant w minor injuries. Knockdown in 15 min. C/T 10:32 **Call Newsline** pic.twitter.com/3C6aiMY97H
— SBCFireInfo (@EliasonMike) July 10, 2018
Fireman were able to quickly extinguish the flames that had started underneath his home. The gentleman was alone with his beloved cat when he noticed the smoke and called 911. Luckily, the cat had managed to escape the burning threat, but unfortunately was now missing.
As the man was being treated for smoke inhalation and minor cuts and bruises, he pleaded with the crew to continue to search for his feline companion. Fearing the worst, he was overjoyed when firefighters located the cat in a nearby shed, terrified but unharmed.
For this fortunate man and his furry family member, the situation ended happily. However this is an eye opening reminder to have an emergency evacuation plan that includes your human AND animal family.
Ongoing Rescues of Animals Displaced in California’s 2017 wildfires
The threat of wildfires in drought-plagued California is unfortunately nothing new. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, in 2017 alone a total of 4,625 fires burned almost 310,000 acres!
During these devastating 2017 fires, one group made it their goal to help care for and reunite the misplaced animals with their families.
Through social media, the Sonoma & Napa Fires Pet Rescue and Reunification began the daunting task. Volunteers in the community worked together to feed and provide shelter for pets still roaming the streets.
They amazingly built over 200 cat shelters, set up a system of feeding stations and put a plan in place to trap as many animals as possible. Many of the feeding stations are equipted with night vision cameras to help the more than 50 experienced trappers.
Their online team monitors local shelter and group pages for any sign of found or missing animal information in the area. They compile the data together and any potential matches are sent for comparison.
According to their Facebook page, “This combination of the reach of social media combined with boots on the ground, and coordination with local animal agencies and shelters, has reunited hundreds of fire pets.”
Scrolling through their album of “Reunited Pets” and reading the stories from elated owners, is sure to warm the soul and admittedly conjure tears of happiness.
I live in California. I am less than a mile from SF Bay, but I used to live farther inland, so I know well the dangers of the wildfires here.
I want to urgently plead with all pet owners:
PLEASE have an emergency evacuation plan in place for all your pets!
Conduct practice drills so everyone in the household knows exactly what to do. For cats, make sure your cat carriers are in easy to access locations so they can be grabbed quickly for use. Also, now shelters are required to, allow, pets to come into the shelters along with their humans. I think, that may be a national law now. Check with your state to make sure.
Don’t leave any animal members behind!
Thanks to Chris, Jessica and the boys for this very timely reminder! The fires have started in Northern California already, and the devastation looks to be even more extreme this year!
Please pray for us! And give an extra snuggle to your pets!!
God bless to those that help these lost and misplaced pets reunite with their families. Keep up the good work! These animals couldnt survive without your help,food and shelter.
Such a great idea. People always say to have a way to take your pet with you. Which I agree is the optimal solution. Having a place to take your pets is an important consideration. One thought I had was if an evacuation notice came when the pet parent is not available to evacuate their pet. Sometimes people live a good distance from their work, some near to an hour or more. If it is a sudden evacuation it would be difficult. Having someone nearby to evacuation the pets would be an option but not everyone may have that. In case of emergency something like a microchip could be essential but owner information must be current. We may not think of every possible situation so we can only do our best.
Wow, what an amazing group and a great idea!
Most CA animal shelters have free window stickers that tell Police/Fire/EMT’s that there are pets in the house, the type of animals and how many there are. The stickers are large enough to be visible from a distance and reflective so they catch the light at night. They can be very helpful if no one is home when there is an emergency or if the occupants are unable to speak due to illness, injury or if there is a language barrier. While rescuer’s main focus may be on the people involved, most if not all will put the extra effort in to find and save pets, and the stickers will help them do just that 😉