Hi everyone. We’re still doing fine here, and I’m writing this with generator power so I’ll keep it quick. The danger to the sanctuary has passed, but we’re watching tanker planes and helicopters try to put out fires all around the area. The wind is blowing and things are pretty smokey. Our hearts go out to those who have lost their homes in this devastating emergency.
I can’t tell everyone how proud I am of our team and how grateful I am to our local authorities. We just sent a newsletter update which I’m pasting below. THANK YOU to everyone who has reached out with offers of support and assistance. What an amazing family these chimpanzees have.
Here’s the newsletter update, and please check our Facebook page (facebook.com/chimpsanctuary) for the photos.
On the afternoon of Monday August 13, the Taylor Bridge wildfire spread through the hills surrounding Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. The fire spread very quickly and engulfed much of the sanctuary property and many of the neighboring properties. The cause of the blaze is not yet known and it continues to spread for miles beyond the sanctuary. We have not had time to make a full accounting of the effects of the fire, but the residence on the property is damaged and the grounds are burned.
Fortunately all seven of the chimpanzees weathered the crisis and are doing fine. They are comfortable, safe and fully secure inside the chimp house.
While most staff and volunteers were evacuated during the emergency, J.B. Mulcahy, Director of Operations, remained on the premises to stay with the Cle Elum Seven and prepare to work with the firefighters to ensure the chimpanzees and the building remained safe. His courage and dedication to the Seven are, as always, an enormous and immeasurable gift.
At the peak of the fire, the chimp house was well protected by fire trucks and helicopters from the Kittitas County Fire Department, who banded together to help the sanctuary and the surrounding properties (see photos below). One of the tireless firefighters had thought that he lost his own home to the fire while he was protecting the chimpanzees – thankfully, his house withstood the fire and he came back this morning to help once again.
We are tremendously grateful to all of the firefighters for their courage, service and support, and our thoughts are with everyone in our community who continue to be affected by the fire.
Natural events like wildfire cannot be anticipated or avoided in this region, but CSNW plans for every possible emergency and followed the protocols set in place for wildfires. The building was constructed with non-combustible materials to withstand fire, and we maintain a defensible perimeter around the building. We are deeply relieved that there was no loss of life, and thank all of our supporters for your outpouring of love and offers of help.
It will take some time to regroup and assess the full damages to the property. We do not have any immediate needs for onsite assistance, and are asking that all current volunteers contact Elizabeth (Elizabeth@chimpsnw.org) before coming to the sanctuary. As always, and particularly during a crises, donations are welcome and can be made on our website: ChimpsNW.org (direct link for online donations: http://chimpsdonate.kintera.org/.
We appreciate your continued support for the Cle Elum Seven, and we will keep you updated through our blog and on our Facebook page as we learn more in the days ahead.
The CSNW Staff and Board of Directors