As crews continue to battle the Eagle Bluff wildfire north of Oliver, a group of volunteers is jumping into the fray to help animals and their owners.
Gena Barzan with the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team (ALERT) said numerous horses, cats, dogs and other animals have already been displaced and there will likely be more as the fire grows.
Barzan has been picking up supplies from Buckerfields stores and is transporting the donated items to the South Okanagan.
While there are no evacuation orders at this time, there are evacuation alerts, meaning people should be ready to leave their home on a moment's notice.
And once they leave an evacuated area, Barzan says they cannot return so they must take their animals with them.
And that is where the volunteers play a critical role as they help to evacuate and care for the animals.
Barzan says with the alert in place, the safest thing to do is move the animals now.
There are currently 14 horses — with more coming in — along with dogs, chickens, goats and even a peacock being housed at Desert Park.
Barzan and her husband, Dale Christie, are driving supplies and gas cards to Desert Park in an effort to help the hard-working volunteers at the site.
“There is a team already working in Desert Park and we are working frantically to help them out. They have already been on it a few days. We are trying to get as many gas cards as possible to help these people out,” says Barzan, adding gas cards are very appreciated because the volunteers are paying for gas out of their own pockets.
And with the heat wave baking the area, Barzan says her concern is getting the volunteers “water and to them and some Gatorade and gift cards to them.”
Donations can be dropped off Tuesday to Saturday at the Animal Auxiliary Thrift Store, 2411 Highway 6 109, behind Diner on Six in Vernon, or they can send an e-transfer to [email protected].
“With that, we will buy what cards are needed,” says Barzan, adding people can even call her at 250-438-0062.
She notes the Rose Valley Vet Clinic, at 2476 Westlake Rd #112, is another drop-off point for donated items.
— Darren Handschuh, Castanet