In August 2017, the largest wildfire in Oregon raged in Curry County. The Chetco Bar Fire forced thousands of evacuations. Many livestock and pets had to be left behind.
Oregon State University Extension Service 4-H stepped in to help by leading a volunteer effort to transport animals to the Curry County Fairgrounds. Staff coordinated transportation, cleaning and feeding schedules, food donations and communication among volunteers and state and local agencies.
Over the course of four months, 125 displaced livestock and pets were saved. This took approximately 2,100 volunteer hours and 350 staff hours to complete. A document outlining roles and responsibilities during animal relief was created to provide clarity to staff and partner organizations about the needs in animal evacuation situations. OSU Extension compiled a list of local and statewide resources along with contact information for these entities.
The experience brought to light gaps in resources and communication. Staff put together a report on the resources needed to improve future efforts. As a result, OSU Extension is better prepared to take the lead in future emergencies. Community members from north, south and central Curry County worked together to make the evacuation an impactful disaster relief event.