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Oakdale Saddle Club aids animal fire evacuation
saddle club pic
Members of the Oakdale Saddle Club have been helping the Tuolumne County Sheriffs Posse with livestock threatened by the Rim Fire, in some cases moving overflow to the local rodeo grounds. - photo by Photo Contributed

With area fire crews battling one of the biggest wildfires in recent years, members of the Oakdale Saddle Club are supporting the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse and Animal Control staff with the evacuation of livestock in threatened areas.

 “We’ve evacuated 30 horses, some goats, a sheep and a mini-burro,” said Kevin Fox of the Oakdale Saddle Club. “We are in contact with Tuolumne Sheriff and Animal Control and coordinating everything through those agencies.”

Fox said the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Posse has stalls set up inside and outside their arena on Rawhide Road in Jamestown to provide a place to bring animals when they are evacuated. Arrangements were made for large animal overflow from the site to go to the Oakdale Saddle Club Rodeo Grounds on East F Street.

“We’re not concentrating on cattle so much as we are for horses,” said Fox. “The cows are pretty much free range and are avoiding the fire areas.”

According to Fox, Saddle Club member Julie Baker has set up 10 drivers with livestock trailers ready to go if needed. One small group of club members was deployed Aug. 25 around 11:30 p.m. to move horses and a buffalo to the arena in Jamestown. Three to five drivers are standing by at all times to assist, Fox said.

The fire has threatened 2,434 homes in and around the communities of Buck Meadows, Groveland, Mi-Wuk Village, Pine Mountain Lake, Ponderosa Hills, Tuolumne City, Twain Harte, and Yosemite Vista. Approximately 1,947 of the threatened homes are primary residences and 487 are secondary homes. The fire was also threatening 2,494 buildings, the Hetch-Hetchy Reservoir, power lines, and multiple watersheds in the area.

Mandatory evacuations were issued for approximately 1,050 people, and voluntary evacuations were issued for 2,846 people.

Several Oakdale Saddle Club members have organized a Rim Fire Donations Drive, collecting at the Yogurt Station on West F Street.