Woolsey Fires

On November 13, 2018, Animal Recovery Mission (ARM), deployed its Disaster Response Team to aide and assist in the catastrophic wildfires which tore through California, USA.

With some of ARM’s partnered animal organizations being located in one of the two hotspot evacuation and fire zones, ARM expedited a team of six to the Malibu Woolsey Fires, to offer reprieve in the rescuing of the animals who were victimized by the deadly flames.

What ARM’s team encountered was nothing short of an apocalypse. To date, the Woolsey and Camp wildfires have been referenced as the most devastating in the state’s history.

Fueled with strong winds at over 60 mph, the fires travelled and consumed an estimated area of 1 football field every 3 seconds. The Woolsey fires themselves, burnt almost 100,000 acres of protected national forests as well as residential areas, whilst the Camp Fire outburst in Butte County, decimated an additional 150,000 acres – burning the entire mountain town of Paradise completely to the ground. Combined, the destruction of the two fires engulfed and annihilated over 30,000 buildings, residences and structures.

Statistics have estimated that approximately 500 people are still unaccounted for with a total of 87 recorded human fatalities. Sadly, the number of farmed animals, wildlife, and pets that suffered and ultimately perished far exceed that number. With the record breaking speeds of these fires, many animals were unable to outrun the fires and perished in the flames. Charred remains of innocent animals, which attempted to escape the imminent flames, became a common sighting to the firefighter allies with whom ARM collaborated their rescue efforts.

Shocking accounts included stories of pets confined, restrained to trees and abandoned as the fires approached and their owners fled. ARM responders were haunted at the reality of countless animals who helplessly became victims of these heartless acts, and ultimately succumbed to the flames – unable to break free from the deadly path of destruction.

The fortunate animals who were rescued were bought to multiple staging areas such as Pierce College, Ventura County Fairgrounds, shelters and veterinary clinics who offered free lifesaving surgeries to animals suffering from severe burns to their feet, faces and bodies as well as chronic smoke inhalation.

Investigations by Cal-Fire are continuing to establish the single cause of the fires, although it is known that 80% of fires are instigated by humans. Currently there is also a reward out for information leading to the cause in the amount of $10,000.

With the investigative work which ARM conducts on Factory Farming, it is noteworthy to mention, and educate society, that much of the damage of the California wildfires is attributed to climate change. Fossil fuels, the majority which is contributed from the animal agriculture industry, are the root cause of this issue. Because of the dramatic and ongoing increase of fossil fuels, the world’s atmosphere is increasing in temperature. This is creating a trickle effect making drier zones more susceptible to fires and wetter zones more prone to hurricanes and flooding. Natural disasters, such as fires, now burn faster and for longer periods of time than they ever have before in world history.

About ARM’s Disaster Response Unit:
ARM’s Disaster Response Unit was created in September of 2018 after Hurricane Florence landed in the state of North Carolina. It was formed to assist animals in dire need following natural disasters. Your support to ensure that our team of expert animal handlers, veterinary technicians and first responders continue their effectiveness and efficiency in these tragic occurrences, can be made possible by making a contribution today.

Critical donations will give ARM the ability and available funds to respond immediately to natural disasters like the California wildfires. This includes obtaining supplies and critical equipment to have on standby, as well as the financial funds to leave at a moment’s notice.