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Monday, September 13, 2021

EVACUATION FROM THE CALDOR FIRE

On August 14th of this year my husband and I left for our annual vacation to South Lake Tahoe, knowing there was a report of a small acreage fire in the forest heading away from us. Knowing that South Lake Tahoe was only about an hour and a half away, we decided to leave for vacation. Instructions were given to our ranch sitters in case of an evacuation, but feeling that they would not be needed. At midnight on August 16th our neighbor reached us by phone telling us although the fire was still not close to us it had a potential of coming in our direction as was completely out of control. It does not look good he said. Hearing this we made the decision to drive home. We called our ranch sitters and told them to begin the evacuation procedures. We asked them to move all 45 of our alpacas out into their pastures from their barns, take our 2 GO BAGS from the hall closet, grab our 2 dogs and leave. When we arrived at the hard closure on our road at around 2:30am we asked the sheriff is we could go to our home and make sure our alpacas were indeed out of their barns. They agreed to let us go up, but only if we did not see fire. We approached our home and met up with our ranch sitters, only to now have a Mandatory evacuation in place. We decided to go to our house, take pictures of every room, grab a few more items, turn off our propane, secure our windows, check our animals and leave hoping they would survive in their pastures which had no trees or grass to burn. After leaving we decided to stay just below the hard closure and wait for daylight. Around 6 am we talked to the sheriff and asked him if we could go back to our ranch and start evacuating our 45 alpacas and a llama. The sheriff said he would give us 1 hour and we could only go up and back one time. We got to our place and started loading up alpacas into our trailer and van. We made the hard decision of taking all the dams with cria at their side, all the pregnant females and the next generation of alpacas. We also took our 6 best studs and put them in our van. Lucky for us a friend of ours showed up and we could then take 14 more. We left behind 4 males and the llama and put out food to last 5 days. We were able to find a fantastic ranch about an hour away that would be able to house all of our herd. And two days later Animal Services went to our ranch and got the 4 remaining alpacas and the llama. Now that our herd was altogether in one place we could breath a sigh of relief. My husband and I had to relocate to our 2nd house which was 3 hours away, but were able to visit our alpacas, send hay and even work a wedding with 2 of our alpacas while we awaited word on our ranch. We were evacuated a total of 19 days. Having gotten word our ranch survived with only a small spot fire, we were allowed to repopulate on September 4th. We came back to the ranch without animals to make sure it was safe for their return. We scrubbed out all water buckets of any soot or toxins, changed out our hay and checked all fencing and barns. Then on September 5th we began repopulating the alpacas back to the ranch. As of today, all alpacas seem to be healthy and happy even after enduring an evacuation for 19 days. We have lots to be thankful for and if not for my training with South County Large Animal Emergency Evacuation and Grizzly Flats Fire Safety Council I may not have been prepared.
Laurie Findlay - Alpacas of El Dorado