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Bozeman community helps fire evacuees, animals

Many in the community opened their doors to house animals displaced by the fire. Photo: Chelsea Gable, Park Your Paws
Many in the community opened their doors to house animals displaced by the fire. Photo: Chelsea Gable, Park Your Paws
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When the Bridger Foothills Fire started Friday, evacuation orders forced many residents out of their homes, with some people having nowhere to turn for themselves or their animals.

The Bozeman community was ready to step up and help anyone who needed it.

Chelsea Gable, owner of Park Your Paws in Livingston, knew she needed to do whatever she could.

“Instantly it was just -- they need help,” said Gable. “So I reached out, because it crossed my head, you know, the last thing someone’s going to be able to do right now is run their animals 30 miles across the hill.”

Gable posted on Facebook and offered free emergency boarding for dogs and cats as well as transportation for animals displaced by the fire.

Gable boarded 13 dogs and two cats at Park Your Paws and continues to accept any new animals who need shelter.

However, in a time of crisis, it’s not just house pets who need help. Farm animals and livestock need shelter, care and safety, too.

Marci Young from Bozeman Cohousing opened her doors to anyone needing to evacuate livestock or have a place to stay themselves.

“Our livestock are our livelihoods or our pets, and so it really meant a lot to us to be able to act quickly and decisively and to offer up our resource to the community,” said Young.

One person who took Gable up on her offer was Tom Fiddaman. He and his family evacuated their home in Bridger Canyon on Friday.

Fiddaman worried about his three horses, because he didn’t know where he could take them.

“We were definitely concerned about that,” said Fiddaman. “We sort of figured worst case we’d just start walking them out in Kelly Canyon and something would work out, and that’s kind of how it worked.”

Fiddaman is grateful for Young’s help and feels proud of the local community.

“It’s been amazing. Not just for us but for people who lost more than us,” Fiddaman said. “Just to see kind of the community become a well-oiled machine to support everybody is really awesome.”

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