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California wildfires: Harrowing video shows woman returning to family ranch to find 100 animals burned

August 22, 2020
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Christa Petrillo Haefner
Christa Petrillo Haefner

A California woman who escaped deadly wildfires that have engulfed thousands of acres near her home has lost dozens of livestock at her family ranch.

Christa Petrillo Haefner captured a harrowing mobile phone video as fires surrounded her family’s ranch in Winters on Thursday. Most of the animals did not survive.

“I lost seven goats, a lamb, about 75 chickens, 20 turkeys, five ducks, and a mare and a foal did not make it,” she told California NBC affiliate KCRA.

She has endured 14 fires in six years, she said, including the latest LNU Lightning Complex series of fires that have scorched more than 300,000 acres around Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Stanislaus and Yolo counties.

Another set of fires in the SNU Lightning Complex has charred nearly 275,000 acres in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Santa Clara counties.

The LNU Lightning fires have destroyed 500 buildings, according to Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency. Ms Haefner said five structures at her family’s ranch have burned.

She also nearly lost her husband in the blaze.

“He was up on the tractor doing a fire break and he was doing really good,” she told KCRA. “And a big gust of wind came up, and the fire went literally up and over him.”

Yolo County Animal Services has urged resident to call the agency or the county sheriff’s office for assistance with large and small animals during the fires.

Hundreds of lightning strikes within a three-day period of activity ignited dozens of fires earlier this month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. Electric fields produced during storm activity produced more than 10,000 bolts, striking vulnerable parts of the state seeing already-dry conditions in record-breaking high temperatures.

Nearly 12,000 firefighters are battling the blazes, which have scorched nearly 1m acres, totalling an area that’s larger than the state of Rhode Island. More than 100,000 people are under evacuation orders.

The National Weather Service has warned that weekend thunderstorms paired with strong winds and dry conditions could prime parts of the state for more fires.

Read more

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