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15 wolves evacuated from refuge during Aspen Fire in Palomino Valley

Bill Chamberlain with United States Wolf Refuge poses with Comanche, one of 15 wolves he cares for at the sanctuary.

A Palomino Valley man 'dodged a bullet' during the Winnemucca Ranch Fire last week, but wasn't so lucky when the Aspen Fire sparked because of dry lightning Saturday.

Thankfully, Bill Chamberlain had already been packing up his belongings before he learned of the mandatory evacuations. He needed more time than most.

Chamberlain spent the next few hours trying to herd 15 wolves into crates and load those crates into vans as flames inched closer toward the United States Wolf Refuge, where he is director. He also stockpiled three weeks worth of wolf food just in case.

Sunday afternoon, about 24 hours after the fire started, Chamberlain and his 15 "kids" were still sheltering at Ironwood Stables in Palomino Valley.

Chamberlain was the only person still staying at the evacuation center --- everyone else had already found another place to stay. But Chamberlain had no other option.

As long as dad is around everything is okay.

"If I'm scared, they become scared. If I'm confident, they become confident. If I'm lethargic, they become lethargic," Chamberlain said.

Sunday evening, the wolves were in fact becoming lethargic and restless in their small crates as temperatures hit the triple digits.

"They're (becoming) burnt," Chamberlain said. "I mean they've been in this cracker box since yesterday afternoon."

Then, shortly after 5:00 p.m., Chamberlain and his wolves finally caught a break. Nearby Model Farm Kennels offered their stables, and Chamberlain started driving them a few miles down the road to a more suitable shelter.

As of Sunday evening, the wolves were going to stay at Model Farm Kennels until the evacuation order was lifted.


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