July of 2017 was the worst season for fires in Nevada since we relocated here over 17 years ago. One of those fires was started by lightning about 3 miles down the road from us. The possibility of the fire traveling that far was quite slim but I wasn't going to take any chances. I noticed the smoke on the horizon at about 3pm. I jumped into to the truck to run down there to find out about it. I was greeted by a number of guys from the U.S. Forest Service, the Truckee Meadows Fire Fighters, Washoe County Regional Animal Services among several other fire-fighting agencies. We were given evacuation instructions - some were mandatory evacuation. Others were voluntary. I didn't care - I was going to get the animals to safety.
The evacuation was extremely hard on the animals as well the staff. After getting all the animals secured to be transported we were told to take them to the Palomino Valley Equestrian Facility that is about 15 miles from here. The animals spent that afternoon and night in airline flight carriers. I spent all that time laying on the saw dust floor of this arena right next to them all. It was dirty, smelly and hot. None of us got any rest. The next day we got the opportunity to take them to Modal Farm Kennel which is located nearby. This gave them more room and was somewhat cooler. Still it was quite hot. Outside temps were in the high 90's.
During this ordeal our sweet Nala started drooling from her mouth. My initial thought was she had developed heat prostration. In the middle of all this we had to rush her to the vet. The ordeal of this triggered a condition that had been in her for quite some time but had not shown any symptoms. The condition is one which the treatment for was quite expensive ($5,000+) and if this condition does heal by itself she may require special care for the rest of her life. She is now receiving this special care and all the required medications at the home of Dawnie Kennedy in Sonoma area.
When we finally got the OK to return them back home I was as excited as I've ever been. That meant the Refuge was intact and none of the animals were burned. For several years we have been asking for the donation large and extra large animal carriers just for this reason. Our fear of fire has been hanging over us ever since we moved here. The present location of the Refuge is perfect for the animals. It is remote and very secluded. But the beautiful trees are fire fuel.
Even before we moved here we had a fireproof building designed that will prevent us from leaving the property even if a fire sweeps through here. The design and appearance of this building is shown below. This purchase and construction of this building, the site preparation and foundation, the septic system, the solar system, the construction of the inside pens and the fence that will lead from the existing enclosures to this building will cost in excess of $150,000.