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Families taking care of livestock near East Evans fire

A local nonprofit is helping evacuate and relocate animals for free.

Posted: Aug 3, 2019 12:44 AM

SAM'S VALLEY, Ore. -- NewsWatch12 was on East Evans Creek Road in Sam's Valley when Jackson County Sheriff deputies began asking people to evacuate. Reporter Cassidy Delamarter was on scene and was able to track how quickly this fire was spreading on Friday.

When NewsWatch12 first heard of the fire at 2 p.m. it was five acres. By 3:50 p.m. it was 70 acres. Around 4:15 p.m. it reached 160 acres and by 5:00 p.m. the fire was between 250 and 300 acres. By 6:00 p.m. the fire was between 300 and 400 acres. As of 9:30 p.m. ODF officials estimate the fire was still between 300 and 400 acres.

Before NewsWatch12 was evacuated from East Evans Creek Road, we were able to speak with a few people who live about 8 miles from the fire to find out how they're preparing. 

Hayden Rosenaur, Sam's Valley resident of six years, said, "It's pretty rough terrain and steep terrain, there's a lot of fuel out here and it's dry and warm."

Rosenaur came by the fire Friday when it first started to see what direction it was moving.

"I'm a rancher in the area, we have a lot of friends in the area that are also ranchers and we can't just evacuate," he explained.

Rosenaur said he has too many animals to move for an evacuation and some of which, he said can't be moved.

"We have to prepare them and basically stand our ground and fight," Rosenaur said. "It's really important that we know what we're up against and how much time we have if we do have to move some stuff around and get more equipment ... to defend our property."

This isn't his first fire since he moved to the area. Last summer he was here for the Ramsey Canyon Fire. He didn't evacuate then either, instead he stayed to protect his animals.

"Every year, I cut back more trees and take out more fuel to prepare for this type of thing," Rosenaur said. "This is just something that you live with in these areas, it's part of living out here."

Several people spent Friday evening loading their livestock into trailers as a precaution. DJ Longbrake and her husband Jeff are helping people move their animals to safety for free.

DJ said, "Hopefully we won't have to do it, but if we do then we're ready, so we're feeling up right now getting ready to go."

The Longbrakes are the founders of the nonprofit HARTS & Rescue. They started helping evacuate animals last year during the Klamathon and Paradise fires. So Friday, they were ready when they got their first phone call asking for help. Shortly after the fire started, one woman was issued a Level 3 evacuation. DJ said the woman called HARTS & Rescue for help.

"She called us to come get her horses," DJ said. "There were 12 of them we took it in our trailer and another friend of theirs took four in their trailer, and right now we’re on standby for a girl with a bunch of goats and livestock."

After picking up the animals, they take them to safe grounds. The locations, usually offered up by people willing to temporarily house animals, include pastures, barns and even homes.

DJ said, "They’ve offered their pastures and their barns, so that’s where the horses went today. We have a list of people who open up their barns, pastures and homes... So we have a list going and we just contact them because if there’s no place to take the animals, it’s really hard."

DJ and Jeff explained the importance of being prepared. They said people need to begin relocating their livestock and animals as soon as they are issued Level 2 evacuations. 

"If you're at a level 2 you really need to start getting your animals out because once a level 3 hits we can't get in, so level 2 you need to start getting your livestock out and don’t hesitate to call us in the middle of the day or night. We’re more than happy to help you if you need help."

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