Evacuating farm animals amidst White Rock Lake wildfire a major operation | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Evacuating farm animals amidst White Rock Lake wildfire a major operation

Farmer Jo Sarada uses a kennel on the back of her truck to transport birds and large animals to safety from White Rock Lake wildfire in Pritchard.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Jo Sarada
August 11, 2021 - 7:00 AM

The process of evacuating large farm animals due to wildfires burning in the B.C. Interior is a demanding task requiring time, equipment and hard work.

Farmers in a rural community in Kamloops spent days transporting large animals to safety after receiving an evacuation order on Aug. 5 due to the White Rock Lake wildfire.

Pritchard resident Jo Sarada owns 100 farm animals and still hasn’t been able to move them all to safety.

READ MORE: B.C. officials say crews did all they could to protect Monte Lake from wildfire

A temporary kennel for an emu that was transported to safety during an evacuation order in Pritchard due to White Rock Lake wildfire.
A temporary kennel for an emu that was transported to safety during an evacuation order in Pritchard due to White Rock Lake wildfire.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Jo Sarada

“Trying to load farm animals is hard at any time, let alone in a panic,” Sarada said. “There really isn’t such a thing as being prepared enough for a sudden evacuation. Farmers often have kennels and trucks on site in preparation for a quick departure, but you still need to catch the animals, contain them and get them lifted onto trucks. Often, as was in our case, animals are left behind.”

Sarada said she was forced to leave her pot belly pigs because their size and weight made it impossible to transport them under an evacuation order in a short period of time, along with some smaller animals she couldn’t catch.

“It is heartbreaking,” she said. “My neighbours had to leave their pigs too. It is scary when you don’t know how close the fire is or how much time you have to get large animals moved.”

People from the community have been obtaining day passes from authorities to keep transporting large farm animals to safety, often working very long days, she said. Some residents have been camped with trailers and horse trailers on the other side of the river outside of the fire evacuation zone.

“People have had to work together to find places to keep their large animals,” she said.

“There are a variety of places in the area who are accepting large farm animals but then you have to worry about feeding them. And then you worry if they will be evacuated from another fire. I am very grateful to have a second house available down along the river close to the campers. New owners take possession at the end of the month, but for now I am able to care for my neighbour’s goats as well as keep my own animals safe.”

The Pritchard community was informed the evacuation order was dropped to an evacuation alert on Aug. 9.

Sarada said she is happy to be able to go back to her property but is hesitant to begin shipping her animals back in the event the White Rock Lake wildfire flares up again, a fear, she said, is common among the members of her small community.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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