California post steps up to help fire evacuees, human and animal

The fire season has hit the West Coast hard in 2020. As of late September, the Creek Fire in California’s central valley ranked as the seventh largest in the state’s history, consuming more than 280,000 acres. And it continues to grow. Thousands of residents and animals have been displaced. Livestock from the area and a few family pets were moved to the Double S Horse Ranch outside of Clovis, Calif., which has become the Creek Fire Evacuation Center for animals.

During the peak of the fire, the center housed more than 600 creatures ranging from horses, cattle, ducks and chickens, along with a few families that were displaced. Hundreds of volunteers, firefighters and other first responders passed through the facility.

American Legion Family members from Cecil Cox Post 147 in Clovis stepped up, regularly coming out to the animal evacuation center to do their part in support of the local community, cooking and serving food to volunteers, workers and others who happened to be on-site at lunchtime.

Post 147 Commander Chris Hoffman said he felt it was important for The American Legion to do its part. “It shows to our membership what we do for our community,” he said. “We’re veterans, we’ve experienced times like these through our service, and we know what it takes ... It’s nice to be able to support our community in ways that are needed.”

Frank Ducar, post member and 14th District commander for the American Legion Department of California, described one particular positive result of interacting with the community. “The first day we were out here we had a veteran come through early in the chow line,” he said. “And when he saw what we were doing, he signed up as a member of our post immediately. On the spot.”

Bruce Staebler, a lifetime member of Post 147 and a retired executive chef, came out every week to help cook food at the evacuation center. Although the thank yous are an added benefit of the work he’s been doing there, his primary reason for coming out is his dedication to the community. At the “Clovis post we’ve got a lot of mountain members, and the mountain community sticks together,” he said. “Clovis has always stuck together. Like they say, Clovis is a way of life.”