EUGENE — Kellie Puckett leapt from her 4x4 Gator and greeted a family unloading their horse from a trailer.

"This way," she said, motioning to a vacant stall.

The air was smoky. The sun glowed red.

Monday and Tuesday, Puckett, a manager at Oregon Horse Center, had loaded stalls with more than 100 horses from evacuated fire zones.

During Oregon's wildfire chaos, neighbors and volunteer teams have rescued thousands of farm animals from evacuation areas statewide, feed stores have donated hay and supplies and strangers have opened their barns to evacuated animals.

"I don't know if our house will be there when we go back. It's scary. But I'm glad we have a place for our horses," said Carly Bramhall, 15, a student at Springfield High School.

Bramhall's family had evacuated the Mohawk area near the Holiday Farm Fire and brought their horses to the center.

Donkeys brayed in a nearby stall. Farmers the past few days had come with goats, ponies, pigs, llamas, even a bull.

Annie Fike, boarding manager at Oregon Horse Center, said local businesses helped. Coastal Farm & Ranch donated feed, electrolytes and water buckets. Wilco sent a hay relief truck. Smart Foodservice donated water bottles.

The center is in a constellation of organizations and individuals statewide helping farmers.

Emma Rupert, a leader at the Eugene Livestock Auction in Junction City, told the Capital Press her team has transported hundreds of farm animals the past few days.

A spokeswoman for the Clackamas County Fairgrounds said there are "a lot" of rescued farm animals on site, too many to count yet. 

Lane County Animal Services, too, has been bustling to move livestock and orchestrate pickups.

Akins Trailer Sales, a trailer dealer in Harrisburg, Ore., has offered to lend out its entire new fleet of trailers for free on an honor system so ranchers can make livestock rescues.

"We've received hundreds of calls every day. It's so crazy," said Rochelle Akins, co-owner of the dealership. "People are calling and they're frantic about their animals."

Akins said she and her husband, Thad, recognized the need because they had to evacuate their own livestock this week. Because many ranchers don't have trailers, they're offering theirs.

Akins said TimberUnity, a livestock rescue group called Cowboy 911 and others have helped move animals. What has inspired her, Akins said, is the number of individuals borrowing trailers to help neighbors and strangers.

In some parts of Oregon, farmers are still desperate for help.

Tommie Reevs, barn owner and manager at Silver Saddle Ranch and Stables in Roseburg, Ore., told the Capital Press she has been driving the roads near Sutherlin, Ore., with her horse trailer, looking for strangers to help. Every trip Reevs makes, she said, she sees dozens of farmers on roadsides awaiting trailers.

Some animals haven't made it out yet.

Gale Moser, a Lane County farmer, said she's grateful her horses are safe at Oregon Horse Center, but because evacuation orders escalated quickly, she had to leave behind her cattle and chickens.

"If it burns, we lose them," she said.

Volunteers continue transporting livestock out of evacuation zones as fires spread.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.