Peter Lang, the 77-year-old owner of Safari West, a wildlife preserve located in Santa Rosa, lost his own home to the fire after making the immediate decision to save the animals. The 400-acre facility located on Porter Creek Road was in the fire’s direct path. One-thousand animals were at risk of perishing in the fire; Lang, however had no intentions of giving up.
According to the Press Democrat, Lang stated:
“I have a thousand souls I’m responsible for,” stated Lang as he walked the grounds, dense smoke still shrouding pens and other outbuildings. “It wasn’t even a decision. This is what I had to do.”
As the fire approached, Lang’s wife, employees and 30 guest were ordered off the premises. Armed with garden hoses, Lang began spraying the hot spots threatening the safety of cheetahs, giraffes and rhinoceroses. By daybreak, Lang’s home had been destroyed by the fire, but every animal was safe. Staff from the Oakland Zoo were on standby to attend to the animals just in case. Fire departments were there to help. Small animals, that could have been affected by smoke, had already been evacuated and had left in the employees vehicles on Sunday evening.
An update on the fire and the status of the preserve was posted on the organization’s Facebook page Tuesday evening:
“Thank you for all the messages of love and support. So many of you have offered to donate money or establish funds in our name and we are stunned and humbled by your generosity. Please, if you do feel compelled to make a donation, direct it to a charity or organization that benefits all the victims of this terrible event. Our Safari West family has suffered but we are not alone and our fellow citizens of Sonoma, Napa, and surrounding counties are all dealing with the same heartache and loss. Thank you again for thinking of us.
Today we were able to get some core staff back on site to tend to animals and deal with some of the damage. We are still working to assess the situation and won’t have a full idea of where things stand for some time. Towards the end of the day we evacuated most of our personnel back beyond the fire lines. Tonight a skeleton crew including some keepers and a veterinarian will continue to tend to the animals and do what they can to defend the preserve.
At this point our fences are still intact with all animals contained, accounted for, and safe.”
Tragically the fire has yet to be contained, and dangers still exist. The fires have already burned 27,000 acres and has been blamed for 11 deaths.
Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.
(Photos screenshot from video and Safari West Facebook)