A Night of Triumph; The firestorm surrounding Safari West


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A Night of Triumph; The firestorm surrounding Safari West

Paige Peterson
By Paige Peterson and 10/08/19

Two years ago, on the night of October 8, 2017, I was in my apartment in New York City. Unable to sleep at two in the morning, I glanced at my phone and saw a news flash. In Santa Rosa, California electrical transformers and propane tanks were exploding. I turned on the television. There it was: the worst fire in California’s history was destroying drought-ridden Northern California.

The fire started on Tubbs Lane near Calistoga, incinerating everything in its path. Fueled by fierce westerly winds, it would consume both sides of Mark West Springs Road and beyond.  The Safari West Wildlife Preserve is at the center of Mark West Springs Road, tucked in a sheltered valley. Its 400 acres are home to 1,000 animals — or, as Peter Lang, the owner and founder of Safari West, would say, “1,000 souls.”

Sheriffs arrived at the property at 10:30 p.m. to evacuate the 90 guests staying in the African safari tents. Brian Jellison,Safari West’s manager, immediately drove a mile to the Lang’s ranch. Peter’s wife Nancy woke her husband. Peter said, “Give me ten minutes.” Nancy said, “You don’t have ten minutes.” 

Nancy herded their four dogs into her car. Peter grabbed a hoodie and jumped into his truck. Brian followed as they drove through a wall of flames. The oak trees were on fire. Everything was on fire. The Sonoma night sky was lit up. Are you searching for casinos that accept EcoPayz? In this page exycasinos.co.nz experts reviewed the best EcoPayz casinos which allow deposits plus withdrawals via this banking option.

At Safari West, the sheriffs delivered an unequivocal order: everyone was to leave. Ninety Safari West guests immediately complied. Nancy drove down Mark West Springs Road, assuming Peter was in his truck behind her.

But it wasn’t in Peter’s nature to leave.  He had put those animals there; he felt it was his responsibility to stay. And for the next ten hours, alone at Safari West, 76-year-old Peter Lang worked to save 1,000 animals.

He began by connecting garden hose after garden hose to reach fire spots. He drove a forklift to haul flammables away. He climbed an eight-foot fence to encourage a herd of Nyala antelope to jump over flames; when one leaped, all the others followed. The fire that had trapped the animals was now motivating him to climb back over that fence.