Monica Hardeman is the founder and president of the Equine Rescue Center in Bangor, California. She has devoted her life to rescuing slaughter-bound, neglected, abused and abandoned equines from across the state. On Monday night, the nearby Cascade wildfires spread to LaPorte Road, dangerously close to the ERC sanctuary. Unable to get the 72 horses, 100 livestock, and several dogs and goats out in time, Hardeman made the heroic decision to hunker down with the animals.
Hardeman gave a phone interview to the San Francisco Gate on Tuesday evening. She explained that the closed LaPorte Road offers the only access in and out of the property, making it impossible for rescuers and friends to evacuate the animals.
"We're just kinda trapped at this point," she said. "If people could get to us, they would, but we're in a situation where it's just not possible."
Hardeman debated evacuating herself, but knowing that officers would not allow her back in to care for the animals, she decided to stick it out alongside her beloved rescue horses and livestock.
"Unless somebody puts a gun to me or something I might leave, but ... right now, I go where they go and nobody could get up here yesterday [to move the horses], they wouldn't let people in. ...I'm not leaving."
Hardeman and ranch director, Gabe Pimentel moved all of the horses to safe enclosures away from any trees, unfortunately having to keep sick animals alongside healthy ones in order to keep them out of danger.
According to a Facebook update posted to the ERC page Wednesday night, the fire had been contained in the area and Hardeman's brothers had arrived to help care for the horses.
Despite the positive outcome, Hardeman expressed her frustration with the repeated fires in her interview with the SF Gate.
"We need to get out of here. This is wildfire land," she said. "There's been four fires here and this is the worst of the bunch — I can't do this. These horses need a place where they can just live their lives with no stress, they've gone through enough."
H/T to SF Gate
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