Wildfire came dangerously close to chimp sanctuary

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 19, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Updated Sunday, Aug 19 at 10:20 AM

As firefighters continue to work the Taylor Bridge fire, we are seeing for the first time just how close the flames came to a chimpanzee sanctuary in Cle Elum.

Diana Goodrich, the Director of Outreach at Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, is thankful for the work firefighters have done. Their quick work saved Annie, Burrito, Foxie and four other chimps from the flames.

Just a few days ago, the fire came racing toward the sanctuary.

In the midst of evacuations, Goodrich's husband stayed behind with the chimps.

"It was just terrifying, and also my husband was in the building so that was a factor too,” said Goodrich.

It was a very close call.

"It came around, it was really up on that ridge first and pretty quickly it came down here,” said Goodrich.

Helicopter water drops and hand crews on the ground kept the flames at bay.

"We're just unbelievably thankful ... they responded so quickly,” said Goodrich.

Goodrich said on her blog that people have asked why the chimps weren't evacuated.

She said "even under the best of circumstances, evacuating seven chimpanzees would have taken hours, and we had nowhere near that amount of time."

The sanctuary didn't escape completely unscathed. Its water lines either burst or melted from the heat of the fire. For the time being they're relying on volunteers bringing in bottled water.

More information

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest Facebook page

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KING 5's Susan Wyatt and Rob Piercy contributed to this report.

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