VIDEO: Safari West to reopen after North Bay Firestorm

 

SONOMA COUNTY (KRON) — One Sonoma County landmark business is getting ready to reopen after the devastating North Bay Firestorm.

Safari West is a 400-acre wildlife preserve that is opening again.

On Friday, KRON4 talked with the founder, who ignored the evacuation order to save his animals.

The owner and founder of Safari West is giving a good scratch behind the ears of one of the reasons he didn’t leave when sheriff deputies told him to evacuate as the Tubbs Fire was bearing down.

That night, the 77-year-old stayed behind after his wife and employees fled to safety, and he fought off the encroaching flames with garden hoses strung together.

Some fences burned, some vehicles and a maintenance yard were destroyed, but all of the exotic residents of the 400-acre preserve survived.

There are more than 80 species on the ranch. Several of them are endangered.

Despite the close calls, Safari West was mostly unscathed by the fire. Weather permitting, they are expecting to open back up for visitors on Nov. 20.

But there were some losses. A baby antelope that was born the week of the fire ended up dying, but it’s unknown if the smoky conditions or the stress endured by the mother played any part.

The biggest loss was a personal one.

He could see his own home go up in flames on a nearby ridgetop.

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