As death toll, volunteers brave Oregon Wildfire to rescue trapped livestock


After noon, help was solicited on Facebook: dozens of animals were trapped on a farm outside the city of Oregon, Colton. A forest fire was going off.

Suzi Cloutier leaped into his pickup and headed south, towards a horse trailer.

As the director of an animal sanctuary outside of Portland, Clotier is on high alert among some of Oregon history’s worst wildlife watchers.

He roams past barricades near Colton, 30 miles south of Portland, along the lines of the 136,000-acre Riverside fire.

When he met half a dozen other volunteers at the end of a remote gravel road, he saw a barren filled with alpacas, sheep and chickens within 100 yards of the smoke. The woman who lived there had run away.

His son was waiting for help. He and the volunteers, along with some neighbors, arranged for quick fencing in the funnel formation, then drove 30 irritated sheep almost to the trailer doors.

Suddenly, the herd spooked and stunned past gatekeepers and bolted back to the barnyard.

“Okay, what happened?” Clutier asked his crew. “When the sheep are inside, you have to close the gate immediately behind them.”

Volunteers will have to keep trying.

It was a Friday. As of Monday, three dozen wild animals in Oregon had burned more than 1 million acres, killing 10 people, missing more than two dozen, wiping out several towns, blanketing the state with thick smoke, and more than 40,000 Forced more people to flee their homes.

This week the air quality in Portland was worse than any other major city on the planet. On Monday, Alaska Airlines suspended all flights into and out of the airport to avoid exposing its employees and passengers to dangerously contaminated air.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told reporters on Monday that “without question our state has been pushed to its limits by fire.”

He said, “It is very difficult for all of us to ravage our heads, because it is on fire, and there have been so many Oregonian aches and pains in the last few days.”

The good news was that the fire had progressed on several fires, and officials hoped the colder temperatures and higher humidity over the weekend would help.

Doug Graffe, a senior fire officer at the Oregon Forest Department, said some fires would keep burning until it rained.

About 5,600 firefighters have been battling the blasts for up to 3,000 since two days ago – and were expected to arrive soon from North Dakota and Minnesota.

Amidst the catastrophe, hundreds of volunteers are scrambling to save pets and livestock, sometimes driving through flames to reach trapped creatures.

Confusion ensued as rural residents brought hundreds of animals to the Clackmas County Fairgrounds in Canby City, only to hear most of them were moved – incorrectly, it turned out – that an evacuation was being ordered .

The fire spread so fast last week that many people were evacuated who lacked time to keep animals, or trucks and trailers, to transport their animals.

Frantic owners posted plaintiff messages on social media with photos and locations, in the hope that strangers would try to retrieve them.

“My horse still stands alone in my burnt house,” said in a post last week on Cowgirl 911, a Facebook group created to enable Rescue. “He has a white leg. He is a bay. ”

The owner included a video clip of the horse and an address in the town of Vida, 30 miles east of Eugene, en route to a fire at the Holiday Farm, 160,000 acres and growing.

Stephanie Olson, 32, a backcountry pack-horse guide who lives outside the central Oregon city of Bend, eventually reached out to the owner and arranged to retrieve the large bay named Toby, as well as some other horses, on Saturday.

The two-hour drive west of Vida was a tour of destruction. After crossing the 4,800-foot Santium Pass, Oxon wound through the Mackenzie River Valley and traversed the city’s sacred relics of the Blue River.

It was midday when she reached a road and explained her mission to a soldier of the kingdom.

“Get settled, do what you need to do,” he said.

There was a fire on the outskirts of Vida, when she arrived, the horses grazed by burning trees. Olson spent hours failing two weddings, one of which had never worn a bridle.

Five firefighters sprayed water in flames at the base of the trees, chasing some horses while cutting some horses and it was dark.

Olson captured a mare and loaded it into his trailer, then the other.

Finally, he found Toby and loaded him into another rescue crew trailer.

Olson made it home that night. She was looking after the five horses she had evacuated and said she made more rescue efforts.

“I can go to Paisley,” he said Monday evening, when it appeared that the Bretton fire was quickly approaching southern Oregon City.

Elsewhere in the state, rare California conductors were among the organisms designed for protection. The zoo keepers removed more than 40 of them from a breeding center south of Portland, where seven chicks hatched last spring and were being released into the wild.

Twenty-six of the birds were driven to the Priest of Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. Others went to Portland’s Oregon Zoo.

“It is a difficult decision to interrupt the flock of birds breeding with their sparrows,” said Leigh Medley, the spread manager of the Perigrine Fund.

Leah Madeley, Lieut, Heather Springstead and Carolina Granthan examine a conductor in Boise.

(Perigree fund)

In the Portland suburb of Sherwood, Devonwood Equestrian Center, a dressage facility closed due to coronavirus, has taken in more than 300 horses, llamas, goats, sheep, chickens and other animals.

Manager Noah Ratner said he would accept almost any animal except cattle, which could demolish stalls designed for expensive horses.

For the rescue effort near Colton, Clottier and other volunteers succeeded in rescuing a young Jersey bull when the neighbor lured the ornate animal to safety, grabbing a bucket of grain and dancing backwards, The sharp horns came out of range.

Animal rescuers take an ox to safety for wilderness rescue near Molalla, Ore.

Animal rescue teams scooped up a bull for protection in the form of wildfires near Molla, Ore.

(Richard Reid / Los Angeles Times)

Ten feet from the door of a trailer, he swung his right hand and collided with a rope between the truck and the tree. But the volunteers eventually lure him into the trailer and open the doors.

They also captured 10 alpacas, two horses, a mini mule and several chickens and ducks.

All that remained were sheep. Later in the day, four people who appeared on the day vowed to give him lassi. Cloutier rolled his eyes.

“You can’t rope the sheep,” he said.

She was right. Owner of Zay’s Wish Equine Sanctuary, in Sandy, Ore. Know more than horses. When he saw 10 sheep in a trailer, he led the volunteers.

Twenty more panicked by the smoke and chase could not be caught.

“It was too late,” Clottier said. “There’s a point where it’s pointless. You’re putting too many lives at risk. It’s sad.”