King5 broadcast a story on the sanctuary last night that you can watch here: http://bit.ly/OC11Wc
To fill in a bit of information: in addition to the incredible work of the firefighters, the chimp house was safe because it was designed to withstand fire and because there was a defensible perimeter around the building, allowing the firefighters to do their job easily. There was no time to evacuate seven chimpanzees and we knew this situation might arise, which is why we made the decisions we did about the building construction and the perimeter around the building. (UPDATE: read a full explanation of why we didn’t evacuate the chimpanzees in the Why We Stayed blog post written by J.B., Director of Operations.)
We were also lucky because helicopters were nearby due to another fire, which allowed them to respond very quickly – this is probably what saved the caregiver house and the other older structures on the property that were not designed from the beginning with fire-resistant materials. The sanctuary property is very close to the river on the other side of Highway 10. The easy access to water meant the helicopters could quickly refill their buckets. And because we were very close to the beginning of the fire, it hadn’t gained the momentum that it had later on. So, it was a combination of having a safe building for the chimps, being prepared with a plan, having a quick response from the local Kittittas County Fire Department (we love you!), and a bit of luck that left not only the chimps safe, but also all of the structures standing on the property, even though the caregiver house did catch fire on the roof and one side (see photo below):
Speaking of luck and a great response, below are a couple of photos of the mop-up crew from Snohomish County. These three guys have been looking for and taking care of hot-spots and flare-ups on and around the property for the last few days. They took their lunch break yesterday at the chimp house, where Jamie “baptized” them with some cooling water (see the water droplets in the second photo).
The sanctuary sends big thanks to all of the firefighters for their continued and tireless work on the Taylor Bridge fire. We hope the fire gets under control soon with no further loss of property.
Looking towards the charred earth on Young’s Hill:
The view on Young’s Hill the day after the fire (luckily the structures survived!):
Snohomish firefighters watching volunteer Connie serve Negra and Jody lunch:
You can help the sanctuary by making a monetary donation that will allow us to continue to clean up the property and take care of the chimps. You can also send us gift cards for Safeway, Costco, Lowes and Home Depot. Just mail them to: CSNW, PO Box 952, Cle Elum, WA 98922
The Cle Elum Seven Chimpanzees have been through a lot in their lives – some were captured in Africa as infants, most were used as breeders and had their children taken away, and all were used for biomedical testing. Our mission is provide them with the best care within our power – thank you so much for contributing to their continued well-being!