In October 2017, wildfires raged through parts of northern California, devastating vineyards and destroying over 8,900 houses and other buildings. The insured damage alone was around $9.5 billion and the overall economic cost may be ten times as much. At least 44 people were killed, making it the deadliest outbreak of wildfires in the United States in nearly a century. The worst of them was the Tubbs Fire, responsible for half the overall fatalities and the incineration of 5,600 structures.
As the flames were approaching Safari West, a wildlife park near Santa Rosa, all of the employees were ordered to evacuate. One of them, 77 year-old Peter Lang, ignored the order. He was determined to stay and save the animals, even at great risk to himself. Flames surrounded the park, but Peter kept at it, even though all he had for firefighting equipment were ten garden hoses connected together. “That’s right, it’s all I had. I went backwards and forwards and sprayed water. I tried to put out all the fires that were left.” It can’t have been easy for him, with all the smoke, frightened animals, and no guarantee he was even going to live to tell about it. “I put on a hoodie and just soaked it in water and put it on, put it over my head. Ten minutes later it was dry. You’d turn the hose on yourself.”
Peter spent ten hours battling the fires — successfully. There was scorched ground in the cheetah area and the tall grass in the hyena enclosure had burned, but miraculously none of the animals were killed or injured. While Peter was busy saving hundreds of animals, his own house went up in smoke. “We lost everything. It’s all gone. And that’s tough.” He’s determined to pick up the pieces and he’ll be getting some help thanks to a collection begun by visitors to the wildlife park.
To meet this hero, have a look at the video posted below. Let us know what you think in the Facebook comments. Don’t forget to like and share!