On November 8, 2018, whatever plans folks who volunteer with NVADG had for the day changed at 7:22 a.m. with a WhatsApp message from "JT" titled Camp Fire Critical ROS. A fire from Pulga had Concow evacuating and in the next 40 minutes, the entire town of Paradise would be under evacuation orders as well.
NVADG volunteers got to work immediately and when Butte County activated us 40 minutes after JT’s group message, we were already in uniform and on the road.
Many of our volunteers had to evacuate first, grabbing their own kids, pets and go-bags before jumping in with NVADG.
Going in to the fire zone to evacuate animals that morning would be impossible. Providing emergency animal shelters would be essential.
The NVADG hotline started to ring and it didn’t stop ringing for weeks.
We didn’t know it at the time, but thousands of homes would be destroyed within hours; the smoke and flames consuming everything. It would take all day to get everyone off the Ridge or sheltered in place, and not everyone would make it out alive.
About 4,000 animals poured through the emergency animal shelters. Brought in by owners, neighbors, good Samaritans and volunteers. Some stayed temporarily while their families stayed with friends; some stayed the full time because their home was destroyed. Every day there were on average 2,000 animals than needed care.
Another 6,000 animals, mostly livestock, were safe at home but without power or people to care for them. Caring for these shelter-in-place animals required hundreds of teams, trucking water and food every day.
Unprecedented was the most-used word from the Camp Fire.
It took an unprecedented number of people to care for the 10,000 animals during the 77 day evacuation. After which it took unprecedented effort by volunteers and Animal Control agencies to make arrangements for the animals left homeless. The agencies and affiliations are too many to list. To all the volunteers and workers who worked selflessly to make sure animals were cared for and ready to be reunited with their owners – thank you.
It took unprecedented burn and wound care. Some of which was cutting edge. Today, hundreds of Camp Fire animals are alive thanks to veterinary care, much of which was donated. To the Vets and RVTs and animal hospital care staff – thank you.
It took an unprecedented amount of donations to manage the task. To the thousands who donated money, gift cards, supplies, food, transportation and more – thank you.
The Camp Fire taught us that effective large-scale animal disaster response requires organization, training, supplies and agreed-upon standards. A positive outcome from this fire is the number of people who are now working together to create shared standards, training and official recognition.
As we look back over the past year, we celebrate the fact that so many animals made it through the fire and are living among us now. We mourn the loss of those who did not make it; they are living in our thoughts.
To everyone who helped out, thank you. We hope you will take life-long pride for how you helped people by helping their animals in the 2018 Camp Fire.
Remembering the ones we can only hold now in our hearts. Jazmine, Simon, Luna, Orion, Buddy, Jack, Nemo, Pippi, Missy, Roger, Rowan, Yogi, Tiger, Jake, Gidget, Sampson, Missy, Piper, Sugar Ray, Zeus, Oreo, Cosmo, Dog, Spiffy, Charlie, Cora, Nala, Elle, Sheba, Holly, Ruffles, Puddles, Holly, Tuffy, Marley, Echo, Chloe, Chelsea, Luna, Hunter, Lexy, Buddy, Jack, and so many more…