Equine facility cleaning up after sheltering fire evacuees
After playing an integral role in keeping animals safe and fed during the Chehalem Mountain-Bald Peak Fire, the DevonWood Equestrian Centre is now cleaning up and expressing its gratitude to community partners. The effort to assist evacuated animals and people from the fire was a collaboration between DevonWood and myriad individuals and businesses in Newberg and throughout the region.
"One-hundred percent of evacuees have returned home and the dust has settled," owner Noah Rattner said. "We're just working on the clean-up process and getting all of our facility back into ready, operational mode. We just want to make sure we're ready for whatever the next event is we host, or if we have another emergency and have to board some animals."
DevonWood, located on Highway 99W east of Newberg, was at full capacity with evacuated animals, housing a large number of mostly horses, along with llamas, alpacas, goats, chickens, a hog and even an African tortoise. It was an unprecedented effort, Rattner said.
"We are accustomed to putting on large equestrian events, but this was nothing like anything we've done before," he said. "The biggest thing for me and my team was validation that it doesn't matter what is thrown at us — within the constraints of our facility and how many stalls we have, we can do pretty much anything.
"We were really fortunate to have as many of our community partners step up to assist as they did. People came out of the woodwork, whether they had a certain business that could help us with something or a connection in the community."
Several barns in the evacuation area had to move between 20 and 40 horses. Logistically, that was a nightmare for many, but community organizations helped move the horses from their homes to DevonWood and then back again. One of those organizations played a larger role than the others and has plenty of experience moving large animals during a wildfire.
"There are so many individuals that stepped up with moving animals, but the main organization was Outlaw Equine Transport, who assisted in the Camp Fire in California last year," Rattner said. "They moved epic quantities of animals down there and donated their time and resources, and they did the same thing for this event. They didn't collect any fees for what they did."
The generosity of the Newberg community and surrounding cities included Wilco Farm Store, which donated bedding, feed and water for the animals. Gallops Saddlery in Tigard donated animal equipment and resources, and the Newberg-based Ruddick-Wood restaurant and Coffee Cat Coffeehouse — along with Grand Central Baking Co. —donated food, coffee and other resources to the humans who evacuated.
The way the community came together during a time of crisis was special, Rattner said, and he noted that DevonWood is ready to assist in the same way in the future should another crisis arise.
"We couldn't have done this without our partners in the community," he said. "We are incredibly grateful for their generosity."
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