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Ranchers, groups rally to help foster evacuated animals at Clark County Fairgrounds

Horse Council offers services, space to horse owners displaced by Nakia Creek Fire

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 17, 2022, 1:19pm
6 Photos
Clark County Mounted Patrol captain Mary Powers talks about evacuation efforts Monday at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. The Nakia Creek Fire ballooned to 1,565 acres after dry, warm and windy conditions on Sunday.
Clark County Mounted Patrol captain Mary Powers talks about evacuation efforts Monday at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds. The Nakia Creek Fire ballooned to 1,565 acres after dry, warm and windy conditions on Sunday. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Local ranchers and organizations are coalescing to foster farm animals as the Nakia Creek Fire continues to grow.

“People are panicking and are considering letting their horses out to wander away. Don’t do that,” said Tina Melton, Clark County Executive Horse Council volunteer. “We will help.”

For those who need a safe space for their animals or want to help, call or text Clark County Executive Horse Council volunteers Tina Melton, 360-702-1064, Pat Brown, 360-666-7978, and Alice Heller, 360-707-2535.

Volunteers will ask animal owners general information, such as what is needed and when they need help by. Melton urged those calling or texting to not be dissuaded if they don’t connect with someone right away, as their phone lines have been busy. Instead, go down the list of contacts until a volunteer answers or returns any communication.

The Clark County Events Center at the Fairgrounds space is currently being reserved for equine “families” of six or more that are leaving Level 2 or 3 zones. There are about 50 horse evacuees at the fairgrounds, and there is still more space for equines.

Ranchers living in secure areas away from the Nakia Creek Fire can help by providing their space to animal evacuees. The Clark County Executive Horse Council is also seeking a temporary barn space to hold donated hay.

Mary Powers, Clark County Mounted Patrol captain, said the group is helping coordinate the evacuation of large horses. Other community groups, such as the Clark County Saddle Club, are also taking in smaller groups of animals.

Horse and livestock owners in Level 1 zones shouldn’t panic and, instead, create a plan in case their fire risk intensifies, such as renting a trailer to move animals, she said.

“Make sure you know what you need to take with you,” Powers said. “If you have animals, get everything in order to take care of them.”

The same need for preparation applies to house pets.

The Humane Society for Southwest Washington, located at the edge of east Vancouver, does not need to clear its facility but is monitoring the Nakia Creek Fire in case it must evacuate, according to a statement from the organization. It was previously in the Level 1 zone but is now in the clear outside the boundary.

“We’re now less concerned about moving shelter animals rather preparing to help the community,” said Sam Ellingson, director of communication and marketing.

Shelter staff and volunteers packed a van with supplies early Monday to send to Camas Church of the Nazarene, which is tending to a handful of animals for evacuees.

The Humane Society for Southwest Washington does not currently need helping hands but will announce a request for assistance if that need arises.

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Columbian staff writer