Petra Janzen has had to evacuate from fire zones in the B.C. Interior in the past.
The farm manager at Canmor Farms in South Langley watched, along with the rest of the community, as this year’s wildfire situation developed.
“I’ve been through this before. I lived in the Okanagan for 20 years before I moved down here just recently,” Janzen said. “I’ve been evacuated and I’ve been on the other end where we’ve had horses come in. I know the stress of the whole situation.”
She and Canmor are trying to alleviate some of the stress for animal owners from the Cariboo region. So, the farm has been taking in fire evacuees with horses and other animals.
On Sunday, a dozen horses arrived courtesty of Thompson Horse Van Lines.
And more arrived Monday.
“I have a mix of stuff coming,” she said. “We’re expecting on this load, I just heard, a goat is coming. And we have a miniature donkey, and geese, and some chickens, cats, and three dogs. You know, the farm is coming.”
Canmor, which is already home to 65 horses, has filled its extra paddocks and space with fire evacuees.
The owners are either staying on site with their animals or have made arrangements to be nearby, Janzen added.
They don’t need any contributions from the community.
“The best thing is, if people want to help out, to donate to the Red Cross,” Janzen said.
Canmor’s owners also have a cattle ranch in the Cariboo that is under evacuation alert, not yet an evacuation order. Family is on site to monitor the situation there.
Ken Powers brought the first dozen horses down from Kamloops Sunday and the Langley Advance reached him as he was returning to the Lower Mainland with four more horses on Monday.
“They let me go right into Lone Butte,” he said. “I asked them how far from the fire. They said ‘a few kilometres’.”
Lone Butte is near 100 Mile House, which is under evacuation order.
Powers drives for Thompson Horse Van Lines, which is on the Surrey-Langley border, transporting animals around Western Canada and into the US. Thompson provided use of the trucks for the wildfire work.
“He donated his time, no wage, to go and help bring horses down,” Van Lines owner Penelope Broad noted. “Customers only had to pay for fuel.”
Powers has hauled all kinds of farm animals including llamas, but this was a new experience, going into a wildfire area.
He said the smoke in the air started in Merritt and was a constant companion through to the Cariboo on Monday’s run.
“Pretty hectic,” he said. “All you see is smoke. You can’t see in front you.”
Everyone he encountered on the roads was leaving the Cariboo for evacuation centres in Prince George.
“Everybody’s heading one way, and I’m going the other way,” he said.
Williams Lake business owner Anthony Lothian was in Langley helping his warmblood, Ishmael, settle in at Canmor when the evacuation alert was issued Monday night for Williams Lake.
His horse was one of the group of animals brought down Monday by families in Drewry Lake and Cache Creek.
The families are all so grateful to have somewhere safe to take their families and animals, said Brenda Embree, who was evacuated from the Drewry Lake area. In addition to ranching, Embree is a paramedic and noted the poor air quality is a significant concern.
While their area is not under evacuation order, the families decided to remove their animals before the fires got too close because of the logistics involved in moving farm animals.
“Between our two families, we brought 30 horses,” she said.