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Forest fires force the couple to evacuate the farm and the animals

Cassandra Odom had made up her mind. If they see the fire coming over the river outside their property, they will be evacuated. Wednesday night, hours after a forest fire broke out on a highway near Lake Shasta in Northern California, she first saw flames over the mountaintops near their home.

She and her partner Derek Lockhart have been running an animal shelter in the Folk National Park for the past year – caring for 60 animals rescued from slaughter or neglect.

When Cassandra Odom saw the flames, she carried the young animals into transport cages and sat with them in the car. There she stayed up late into the night, when the fire seemed to have died down and they could go back inside. Since then, they have slept in shifts and tried to figure out what to do with 60 animals.

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Cassandra Odom with a cow. 60 rescued animals live in the shelter they started a year ago.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

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A fire was seen from the yard.

Photo: Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary and Rescue

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Cassandra Odom and Derek Lockhart evacuate animals from an animal shelter in Northern California.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

Many of them are elderly, find it difficult to walk or have been in shock after being rescued from poor conditions. The couple does not have enough animal transportation to take all the animals with them.

– They deserve to live. Cassandra Odom says over the phone to DN they don’t deserve it. Saturday night, the fire is still dangerously close.

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A few hours later, I sent an SMS. “We are evacuating the animals now.”

sat on saturday night Megan Gere and her husband Luke in the living room. They saw on Facebook how Cassandra Odom told about the approaching fire. They decided to line up, took their own trailer and drove the mountains toward the fire.

– First I saw smoke when I approached. But I was very surprised when I drove down the highway and went straight into the flames. It was crazy, Megan Geyer says.

Megan and Luke Gere with dog Bella.

Megan and Luke Gere with dog Bella.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

While they were trying to load the animals into the car, she saw flames approaching. Luke Geyer is a firefighter and has worked on several wildfires. He says he was not worried. He knows how fires work.

– I know what I’m looking for. And in the evening when it’s cooler, the flames usually go out. So I knew we had some time, and I can assure them of that, he says.

The fire burning in the area is called salt fire. It is one of three fires nearby, and has already devoured 24 buildings – most of them apartment buildings.

Firefighters from across California are battling the heat and wind to try to contain the blaze and water launchers are being flown across the nearby lake. The smoke makes the mountaintops invisible several kilometers away. Many people were evacuated.

Luke Geyer and three evacuees who were temporarily allowed to graze on the ground around his house.

Luke Geyer and three evacuees who were temporarily allowed to graze on the ground around his house.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

After the Geyer couple’s rescue, three cows, a llama, a llama, an alpaca and a pony graze with the couple’s goats on the dry land around the house. Luke Geyer says he tries to keep the ground moist with sprinkler systems. In order for the animals to be able to graze – and to reduce the risk of fires spreading in the future.

In August 2018 I was touched The area around Redding due to a large forest fire. The fire destroyed more than 1,000 homes after a car punctured, and a spark ignited the vegetation adjacent to the highway. Nine people were killed – many of them firefighters, some because they were unable to evacuate their homes.

Karleen Stoker is a volunteer at Shasta Game Shelter. When the fire spread to the area in 2018, it kept its readiness. The sky was black. She packed everything she needed into a carriage and attached it to the car, so you could leave the house quickly. The house survived at that time. But Carlin says everyone in the area knows someone who got rid of everything because of a fire.

We all have PTSD when it comes to fires, she says.

Karleen Stoker, a volunteer at the Shasta Game Shelter.

Karleen Stoker, a volunteer at the Shasta Game Shelter.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

Although wildfires are common in the area, they have come earlier and earlier in recent years.

Unfortunately, I think it will only get worse. I think a lot of people would agree that climate change is here, even before what scientists thought. Our normal weather will be shorter, and unusual weather will become more common.

In recent weeks The western coast of Latin America was exposed to extreme heat. In northern California, the American Red Cross classified the sweltering heat as a catastrophic condition and sent volunteers from across the country to open a “cooling center” at a gym in Lake Shasta.

Then the fires came. When the evictions became a reality, volunteers turned the place into a dormitory. Tents beds are ready with blankets. Ceiling fans are working in full swing to make the air bearable.

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Mary Nichols, Lake Shasta evacuation site coordinator.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

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Red Cross evacuation center.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

Mary Nichols is the evacuation room coordinator. You sit outside in over 40 degrees and steal a cigarette break. Salt Fire is its first fire. In Tennessee, where you live, hurricanes usually hit.

– Then people come to us when a hurricane hits and they know right away if they can go home or not. Here come a lot of people who do not know if their home will survive.

The room is completely empty. Mary Nichols thinks it’s because they don’t accept animals. Many of those who live in the mountains need somewhere to take their pets with them.

People sleep in the parking lot with their dogs and cats. And it’s very hot there, so we try to serve them cold water as well.

Sunday afternoon Park a pickup truck with the tailgate against an open gate to the pasture where the evacuated animals are grazing on the Geyer family farm. Cassandra and Derek jump and open the back door. Dozens goats watch out.

Come on, it’s not dangerous.

Cassandra Odom appears collected but anxious when she tells Megan Geyer about the medication of a goat, who has become lame after a dog attack. Her partner Derek is resting his half on one of the cows. Since Saturday night, they have received assistance from nearby residents to evacuate the majority of farm animals. The goats are the last to leave the farm.

Goats are some of the last animals Cassandra Odom and Derek Lockhart cleared from their farm with the help of the Geyer couple.

Goats are some of the last animals Cassandra Odom and Derek Lockhart cleared from their farm with the help of the Geyer couple.

Photo: Evelyn Jones

At the same time, the wind turned – and the fire again threatened their homes and the remaining animals.

– It looks bad. It’s very smoky there. Everything is burning and the wind is blowing towards us. An eviction order will be issued within the next few hours.

It will be a short stopover for the couple. Before they can leave the house on their own, they must go back and load up on dogs, birds, and their immune system.

– Then we’ll wait. So we can’t wait any longer.

Cassandra Odom says she doesn’t know where to go if they have to leave their home.

– But I’m not really worried about us, mostly about animals. A home can always be rebuilt – in the long run. Once the animals are taken out, we can figure out what to do. So we’ll see.

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