Today started out pretty normal. Us humans were busy cleaning all morning, with breaks to walk around the hill with Jamie and check in with the other chimps. We had finished cleaning the playroom and had started cleaning the front rooms. I was over by the playroom door and Jamie was craning her neck and body to see out. We know Jamie pretty well, and we knew something was up, so Anna went outside to see what Jamie might be looking at, and saw a plume of smoke a few hundred yards away.
The chimps have seen smoke from intentional fires on our property (when there’s not a burn ban!) and our neighbor’s property before, and I don’t think they’ve reacted to it, but maybe they knew this was different, having gone through the Taylor Bridge Fire in 2012.
Their alarm was warranted. The fire was close and was moving through the ground cover, burning some of the trees that had been downed in the fire four years ago.
Just like the Taylor Bridge Fire, it traveled up the hill, towards some of the properties that had been rebuilt.
They came through okay, though, thanks to the firefighters.
Thank goodness for firefighters, and thank goodness for volunteers and data collectors! Volunteer Ally and primatology student Jake jumped into action to help. We were asked to evacuate the house that J.B. and I share with our two dogs and two cats. Ally and Jake were lifesavers – helping get harnesses on the dogs and put the reluctant cats in crates, then, with caregiver Anna’s help, driving them to safety at Jake’s house.
In the meantime, J.B. got the emergency sprinkler system, which pumps water from the pond above the house:
We had brought the chimps inside the building and shut all of the windows and doors, so the window in front room four was the spot to watch from. Most of the chimps were very calm. Jody and Foxie were a bit anxious, with Jody sticking close by Burrito most of the afternoon.
In the below two photos, Burrito and Jody were lying next to each other:
Foxie kept a Dora doll close:
We gave them some extra treats today and otherwise followed the routine as much as possible. They are in bed now – Jamie with her boots, Foxie with her dolls, and Negra under a blanket.
Our dogs and cats are back home (thank you Anna, Katelyn, Ally & Jake!).
The fire seems to have sparked again well above the property as I was writing this. The helicopters were on it immediately. There are also still some smoldering spots nearby, but we feel that we and our neighbors are safe with the skilled firefighters working so hard.
We lost power (the electric company probably shut it off due to the fire), but the chimp house’s generator kicked on immediately, not even skipping a beat.
J.B. and I are making our own dinner in the chimp house kitchen, but trying to keep things quiet so we don’t wake any of the chimpanzees as the slumber safe in their nests.