GOLD HILL, Ore. — With ice on the interstate and chains on their tires, the weather proved to be much colder than two men coming from southern California anticipated.
“We were coming down and we had to chain up and we were going really slow at that point, trying to find a warm place that we could keep the animals overnight,” said curator of fish and invertebrates at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Kevin Clifford.
Those animals were two White Sea Bass donated from a southern California aquarium en route to the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. With freezing temperatures outside, the temperature inside the tank dropped below the normal 60 degrees slowing down the heart rates and threatening the fish.
Clifford knew they would need a place to pull over and warm up. That’s when Jackson County Fire District 3 got the call and extended a helping hand and the warm up mission began.
“We’re improvising. We’ve got some pots we’re boiling water from the aquarium. The firemen set up a heat exchanger for us, took a garden hose and ran hot water through it,” said Clifford.
Fire crews pitched in, in between calls without hesitating. Interim Operations Chief Brandon Mitchell said it was an easy decision opening their doors because serving the community is what they’re there for.
“Our chief empowers us to make those decisions and he trust that we’ll make the right ones and this is definitely the right thing to do,” said Mitchell.
The trek for the two 50-60 pound bass began in the wee hours of Friday morning. It didn’t end at their final destination it in Newport, but Clifford said he’s grateful for the firefighter’s hospitality.
“This time I planed on being at home in my bed in Newport, but with the weather, I wound up in a fire station in Gold Hill, Oregon. It’s awesome!” said Clifford.