The recent wildfires that have turned parts of northern California into smoldering stumps have been devastating for many residents, both human and animal, in some cases resulting in a tragic loss of lives. One man was not going to let that happen to the animals where he was and he put himself at great risk to protect them.
Thousands were forced to evacuate for their own safety.
Homes and businesses, humans and animals were being consumed and destroyed by the deadly fires. The animals that faced the most threatening risks were those that lived in the zoos and on wildlife preserves. One of those preserves was the Safari West Park and Animal Preserve in Santa Rosa, California.
When the order came to evacuate the safari park, everyone left except for one man—the owner, 77-year-old Peter Lang. He refused. Lang would not allow the animals to be left to die, which appeared to be imminent given the powerful wall of flames that was heading speedily toward them.
It was fire versus garden hoses.
Armed with only everyday garden hoses, Lang fought the fires as they began to close in on him and the animals he was trying to protect.
“I put on a hoodie and just soaked it in water,” described Lang in an interview with KPIX News. “And I put it on and put it on over my head, and 10 minutes later it was dry.”
He continued fighting the fires with determination through the night.
The air was thick with smoke and the fire was relentless, intent on destroying everything in its path. Lang didn’t flinch. He worked tirelessly through the night, running from one scorching patch to the next, spraying the ferocious fires with water as best he could.
Come morning, all the animals were safe.
Lang’s stubborn persistence paid off. Not one of the animals on the preserve was lost and he survived as well.
Sadly, Lang’s house did not. It was completely burned to the ground. He saved his animals but lost his home. Although he expressed that it was tough to lose his house, he has no regrets.
After people found out about what he did, many were offering to donate money to the park to help them recover.
But Lang asked instead people donate money to charities to help those in the community affected by the fires.
“Thank you for all the messages of love and support. So many of you have offered to donate money or establish funds in our name and we are stunned and humbled by your generosity. Please, if you do feel compelled to make a donation, direct it to a charity or organization that benefits all the victims of this terrible event,” he wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
The fires continue to rage in the area. Stay up to date with Safari West on their Facebook page.