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Local News

Victim of Jesusita Fire Could Use a Few Helping Hands

Nancy Callahan, who lost her home and wildlife rescue center in the blaze, has organized a work party for Saturday to begin clearing the property

When the Jesusita Fire broke out more than two months ago, Nancy Callahan fled her home with 26 of the animals she cares for, not knowing that her home, as well as the animal care facility she operates, would be destroyed.

Now, Callahan has received the go-ahead to begin to clear her property, on North Ontare Road in Santa Barbara, and start over, and is hoping to find some helping hands in the community. She’s hosting a work day on her property beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and plans to provide a barbecue for any helpers.

As the founder of La Cumbre Canyon Wildlife Rescue and Wildlife Educational Services, or W.I.L.D.E.S., she brings animals into school settings so children can learn about them. The animal shelter where the animals lived, which was located just behind Callahan’s home, was left in a pile of rubble.

“It was wonderful to receive so many offers of help after the fire, but until recently we did not have permission to clear,” Callahan told Noozhawk.

She said that once they received approval, she was overwhelmed with the work ahead. “It would take months to get the area cleared and cleaned up if we were to do it ourselves,” she said.

Callahan said she already has received a positive response from people wanting to help, but welcomes anyone willing to pitch in. Would-be helpers should wear old clothes and work shoes, and bring gloves, masks and tools such as hammers, screw drivers, wire cutters and pliers.

Many of the animal cages that were saved need to be steam-cleaned and scrubbed, she said. Tackling projects such as tearing down damaged animal cages and preparing the foundation also will be among Saturday’s goals.

Another work party most likely will be held to finish clearing the area, paint and get ready for new cages to be installed. It’s baby season for many of the animals Callahan cares for, and she said she’s been taking in animals in the meantime and keeping them in loaned cages.

“We have taken in 15 baby raccoons, two injured adult raccoons and nine opossums,” she said. “We received some donations right after the fire, but it’s going to take $5,000 to $10,000 to completely rebuild.”

She says it has been an emotional roller-coaster since losing everything in the fire. “After the work party this weekend, I should be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

For more information or for directions, e-mail [email protected] or call 805.252.9231.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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