Advertisement

Historic ranch near Vernon, B.C. hosting displaced animals because of regional wildfires

Click to play video: 'Evacuees seek refuge for livestock displaced by White Rock Lake Fire' Evacuees seek refuge for livestock displaced by White Rock Lake Fire
Evacuees seek refuge for livestock displaced by White Rock Lake Fire – Aug 3, 2021

The Historic O’Keefe Ranch near Vernon, B.C., has opened its gates to more than 200 domesticated animals displaced because of regional wildfires.

“We’ve opened our grounds every year,” said ranch manager Sherrilee Franks. “We always have, as far as I know.

“This year just seems to have drawn a larger crowd.”

Read more: Okanagan wildfires: Evacuation order for Two Mile Road wildfire rescinded

Franks says wildfires, such as the White Rock Lake blaze that’s burning near Westwold, are significantly closer when compared to previous years.

“I also think people are staying really close to their social media,” said Franks, noting the ranch has received an overwhelming response this year.

“It’s hitting pretty close to home,” said Franks, “so it’s nice to be able to do this.”

Story continues below advertisement

An exact total wasn’t available, but Franks said the ranch is now hosting more than 100 sheep, around 100 goats, 20-30 fowl and a dozen horses.

Franks also said the ranch has been contacted by people who are on alert, asking if it’s OK to shelter their animals at O’Keefe’s just in case they are forced to evacuate.

Click to play video: 'B.C. wildfires Monday: Frustration around White Rock Lake fire, Spences Bridge residents can return' B.C. wildfires Monday: Frustration around White Rock Lake fire, Spences Bridge residents can return
B.C. wildfires Monday: Frustration around White Rock Lake fire, Spences Bridge residents can return – Aug 3, 2021

“We aren’t at capacity yet and we can take on more animals,” said Franks, adding there have been callouts for volunteers to help create pens and set-ups.

“We’ll just keep doing so. Everyone needs a place to be, so we’ll just keep creating pens, moving panels, whatever we need to do.”

Franks said housing fowl is a challenge, so any help, such as time, panelling or fencing, would be welcomed.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re not asking for them to bring it in,” said Franks. “We’re just asking for them to call in, say they have it, and when we need it, we would just give you a call.”

Franks also said if you’re put on either evacuation alert or order, and you need to do multiple loads of animals, the fastest way to reach the ranch is through Facebook Messenger.

“Last night, the last person through the gate was just before 1 a.m.,” said Franks. “The night before, it was 1:30 a.m.”

Click to play video: 'Cooler temperatures help wildfire fight but some continue aggressive behaviour' Cooler temperatures help wildfire fight but some continue aggressive behaviour
Cooler temperatures help wildfire fight but some continue aggressive behaviour – Aug 2, 2021

One person who moved their animals — around 35 chickens and six ducks — to the ranch was Nikki Sekulic, who has been on evacuation alert for the past week.

Sekulic said she tried social media, but that “nobody really replied,” though O’Keefe Ranch “has been wonderful” after getting in touch with them.

Story continues below advertisement

“I have two seniors at home who are very nervous and they’re anxious, so I’m trying to stay calm,” said Sekulic. “We’ll get through this somehow.”

Sponsored content