WAN’s Exclusive Update On The 36,500-Acre Klamathon Fire In Northern California & The Animals In The Areas Affected

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Photos from Jason Rutland

A wildfire that began last Thursday in Siskiyou County, California, is continuing to spread across the California-Oregon border; displacing thousands of people and their animals.

WAN talked to Rich Eagan, a Public Information Officer for the Klamathon Fire, for an update.

According to Eagan, the 36,500-acre wildfire is 45% contained. It is anticipated to be fully contained by July 15th.

Fortunately, as reiterated by Eagan and others that WAN spoke with, human compassion and kindness have also rapidly spread throughout the tight-knit community which is located approximately 300 miles north of Sacramento.

WAN talked exclusively with Jason Rutland, who is the new Treasurer for local non-profit SNIP of Siskiyou County, which stands for the Siskiyou Spay and Neuter Incentive Program.

While there is no local animal shelter, SNIP is the wonderful volunteer-run organization that has set up what they refer to as “The Refugee Camp” for fire evacuees, including pets.

Rutland explained that yesterday there were somewhere between 40 and 50 dogs at the evacuation “camp” which is based at the Jackson Street School, located at 405 Jackson Street in Yreka, CA.

The phone number to the temporary evacuee center that allows pets at Jackson Street School is (530) 340-3539.

The number of animals on site fluctuates as some people leave when they are cleared to return home while other evacuees from newly-affected areas arrive. On Sunday, Rutland estimated there were more than 100 dogs at the facility.

While the temperature outside is averaging around 100 degrees, Rutland said that predominantly due to the community’s generosity of donated fans and ice blocks, inside it ranges between 70 and 80 degrees. Businesses, organizations, and individuals have all stepped up to help with donations ranging from food, water, supplies, pop-up tents and kennels.

Rutland further explained that since they have so many animals to accommodate, they are kept in three separate locations. While the dogs are with their human families at the local school, more than 100 cats are comfortably staying at the SNIP of Siskiyou County offices.

“They are living it up in the make-shift air-conditioned cat apartments,” teased Rutland who also noted that another location housed 13 birds and seven fish that they are helping with temporary shelter.

Rutland also credited the President of SNIP’s Board of Directors with securing several grants that enabled them to have vets visit the facility up to eight times to check on dogs suffering from smoke inhalation, lacerations, and other ailments.

The “camp” also has regular visits from pet groomers that give the dogs baths and trim their nails.

“It’s tragic,” Rutland said on a more serious note. “Some people lost everything. Many of the evacuees are elderly and their fur-babies are their only family.”

“Yet spirits are high. It’s nice having all the dogs here to interact with,” Rutland noted as we talked about the remarkable power of dogs and their unconditional love. “Some people even take their cots into the kennels to sleep with the dogs.”

At the height of evacuations, there were an estimated 150 people with pets; some had several while one family arrived with 18 dogs and another three families with 14 animals each.

It is not uncommon in the area for families to have lots of animals as most properties, which include farmland and ranches, sit on up to one-thousand acres.

Large animals are temporarily being housed at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds located at 1712 Fairlane Road in Yreka.

“We live in a great community. Thanks to everyone that has donated feed for the large animals at the fairground. We have plenty for at least a week. Please hold off bringing more to the grounds,” the Fairgrounds noted on its Facebook page. “We will ask again if we run low.”

Cliff Munson, the Fairgrounds CEO, explained to WAN that they are currently housing an estimated 50 horses, llama, sheep, three pigs and a cow. But, that can change as quickly as the direction of the fire, while some people leave with their animals and others arrive.

“We are on a holding pattern now,” Munson told WAN. ”We are praying that the winds die down and everyone can get back to business as usual.”

As far as SNIP, Rutland told WAN one of his main concerns is that this is only the beginning of fire season. Since they have been through this many times before and have proven to be more than adept at handling emergency situations like this, SNIP is now planning to create a deployable mobile unit so that they can respond faster and to more locations that are experiencing a crisis like the Klamathon Fire.

The Public Information Line phone number for the fire is (530) 842-2266.

People are encouraged to contribute to SNIP’s current animal and fire-related needs, its spay and neuter program, and its deployable mobile emergency unit by donating on its Facebook page or CLICKING HERE!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to talk with WAN and share such valuable information about the current fire situation in Northern California. You and your co-workers on the front-lines of keeping these scared and temporarily homeless animals safe are Heroes!

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