It’s been one week since devastating fires ignited in Northern California and the numbers are staggering… More than a dozen fires, still burning. The death toll is at least 40 and ten thousand firefighters are on the scene.
But there is some good news. Crews were able to make progress on several major fires overnight thanks to the calming of high winds, which had wreaked havoc for days.
Better conditions helped firefighters turn a corner in their battle. In some areas, containment numbers are up to 50, 60 percent.
In some fire ravaged communities, all that’s left are piles of rubble and ash. But even in the face of such disaster, residents still want to help those who couldn’t help themselves. Several animals survived the horrific fire that roared through Glen Ellen, like these chickens.
Just down the road, the Bee Well Farm was nearly gutted. Austin and Melissa Lely lost their home, all their possessions and several other structures…but, having to leave all their farm animals behind was by far the most painful.
“We just felt terrible that we couldn’t do anything about it”, says Melissa Lely. “So it was this complete helpless feeling.”
Even though the fire swept across the farm, miraculously, all their animals survived. They found two of their goats huddled together, but alive. A dozen cows also survived unscathed. And their 300 plus chickens…every single one survived a direct line of fire.
According to Austin Lely, the fire came under their big chicken coop, but because the chickens had scratched the ground underneath and around the coop, the fire didn’t burn the area.
Austin and Melissa are also working with others in the community to make sure animals left behind are cared for until their owners can come back. A display of grace and generosity – in the face of incredible devastation.
“Optimistic and resilient, that’s what we’re trying to do cuz you know there are times when we think about the house and everything we lost but those are losses that’s the past, the future awaits,”, say Austin. “So we’ll just grip and rip it and have fun!”
That’s the kind of attitude that will bring all of the communities impacted by the fires back stronger than ever.