Aug 31, 2017
by deTraci Regula
It’s getting closer to harvest time and the season of thanksgiving, and it seems to be appropriate to start this month’s column with a message of thanks to our local Fire Department here in Geyserville and to the other local agencies and departments which assisted in the protection of Geyserville and the Isis Oasis Sanctuary recently. On an otherwise quiet Monday morning, my first inkling of a problem was when a plane flew so low over the Oasis that I thought it was going to scrape the top branches of our Great Tree. I ran out of the Bosch farmhouse with my fist in the air ready to try and see what silly wine country tour plane was buzzing us so low – and then I saw that the low-flying plane was actually a fire plane headed for the billowing clouds of smoke approaching our northern boundary. Within minutes, a helicopter zoomed over with a dangling giant water pouch, flames could be seen from our forested area, and more smoke was then rising from the south. We decided to box the cats and birds for possible evacuation and the Oasis was a very busy place for the next hour. Along the west side of Highway 101, a series of up to six small fires had broken out, apparently simultaneously. At the peak of the fight, seven aircraft and 22 engines fought the flames.
While the exact cause of the blazes remains unknown, it was much too close for comfort. Even if a fire itself does not reach us, just the smoke alone can be devastating to the health of our elderly ocelots and servals and our very sensitive birds. In the end, fortunately, though packed up and ready to go, we did not have to evacuate. While stressful, on the plus side, it turned out to be a very realistic “fire drill” and we learned a great deal as we applied our long-standing emergency evacuation plan for real. As soon as the possibility of evacuation arose, we immediately started coordination with Safari West, which has become a leader in coordinating disaster preparedness for animal sanctuaries in Sonoma County, and so our crisis became a test case for them as well. We were especially touched by a number of calls and contacts we received from the local community asking if we needed help getting the animals out and offering other assistance.
One thing we learned was that some of our evacuation containers were too large to use effectively in boxing our cats if they were in their interior sleeping dens. If anyone has spare medium-size animal transport containers about 18-24” high, in good condition, the kind that would fit about a 30 pound dog, we would welcome a few more of them. Once the cats are inside the medium-sized containers, they can be transferred to larger ones for transport relatively easily. And while Safari West stood ready to evacuate our alpacas with one of their trailers, realistically it is much better if we have one of our own easily accessible at all times. So we are also looking for a reasonably-priced, or better yet, a tax-deductible donation of a horse trailer big enough for our three alpacas.
Mark your calendars now for the 2nd Annual Geyserville Beer Wine and Spirits Festival in October. The first festival was a great success in bringing together local craft breweries, distillers, and wineries accompanied by bites from the Geyserville Grill, and tickets are limited for this year’s event which will be held on Saturday, October 7th from noon until 5pm. 21 and up only. Tickets start at just $35 and can be purchased at Eventbrite.com. Unless sold out, some tickets will be available on the day of the event at the Geyserville Inn.
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