British Columbia

Rock Creek fire: Horses, Mimi the cat safe after wildfire

Rock Creek resident rescued a black mare, as well as a cat which survived by protecting itself under a car.

Amazing tales of survival and community support emerging after devastating fire.

The community contributed more than $600 to help Mimi the cat, who survived the Rock Creek fire with second degree burns on her paws. (Grand Forks Central Veterinary Services/Facebook)

As residents in B.C.'s southern Interior begin to rebuild their lives after the massive Rock Creek fire, horses and other animals are returning to the area to be reunited with their owners or looked after by others in the community.

Rock Creek resident Erika Tafel has come across some displaced animals — including a black mare who recently wandered onto her property.

"It doesn't look like she was burnt in any way. She was very dusty and dirty and hungry, but other than that she was in great shape," Tafel told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen.

Tafel said that although the horse was reluctant to be captured, she found a way to gain the animal's trust.

"My neighbour went and got his cowboy hat on, and she came right to him when he had his hat on, so chances are she's from a cowboy of some sort," she said.

A black mare rescued by Rock Creek resident Erika Tafel. (Erika Tafel/Facebook)

Tafel said the horse was picked up by the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team, and hopes it will be reunited with its owner. If not, she plans to adopt it.

Rescuing horses, cats

Tafel also owns a horse, which she set free as the blaze approached on Aug. 12. But when she was allowed to return to her house, the horse was there.

"There he was, standing at the barn, waiting for food," she said.

"I didn't even have to look for him. It just relieved so much stress that I knew where he was. I thought he was such a smart horse for coming back, and also I thought if he thought it was safe, then it was probably safe for us too."

Tafel also went looking for one of her neighbour's pets — a cat named Mimi — after that neighbour lost her house in the fire.

"Poor Mimi had spent two days down there, but luckily her car hadn't burnt, so she was able to protect herself in the car," she said,

"Unfortunately all [my neighbour's] possessions are gone, but her beloved cat was there."

According to the Grand Forks Central Veterinary Services, Mimi has now been reunited with her owner.

Stories of survival

Another Rock Creek resident, Jennifer Brock, pitched in to pay the kitty's vet bill, with the help of other donors.

That's just one of many things that Brock has been doing. She has also come up with food donations for those in need, and is looking after seven horses, in addition to the 19 she owns herself. One of those seven is the black mare that Tafel found on her property.

"I've always come from a family that said you give until you can't give anymore," Brock said.

"If I'm not helping fully, others are helping me to help, and others are helping as well. I just feel like a little catalyst, sparking help."

Tafel said that helping these animals, and hearing of others' efforts, has given her hope.

"Every couple of days I hear this wonderful, life-redeeming story about the resilience of animals, and it's just comparable to all the people here in Rock Creek," she said.

"I'm feeling like it's going to be okay, that everybody is going to be okay."


To hear the full interview with both residents click on the audio labelled: Horses and other animals found after Rock Creek fire

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