Paige Cote’s farm is getting crowded.
The Agassiz resident and owner of Off Track Farms has been helping to house horses impacted by the B.C. wildfires.
Cote and a large group of volunteers have been shuttling animals and people from the danger zones and bringing them down to the safety of the Fraser Valley.
“I like to think that we are doing what everybody else would do if it was us in that situation,” Cote said about her efforts.
For Cote, the wildfires hit close to home. She only moved to Agassiz about a year ago. She used to live in Bridge Lake, located between Little Fort and 100 Mile House, and her mother still lives in the area.
Cote has seen a lot of natural disasters while living at Bridge Lake, from major winds wiping out fence lines and trees to actually being caught in a wildfire situation herself.
“We seem to always be picking up after ourselves. So as soon as you hear fire, you just know that you won’t be able to pick up after this right away, and that’s hard.”
So Cote decided she had to help.
She had extra room on her farm and thought there was no reason not to take in some evacuees and house some horses.
It didn’t take long for her to put together a team of volunteers willing to drive up to the wildfire areas and help with the evacuation.
“I talked to all my friends and we arranged almost 10 trucks and trailers ready to go.”
The group of volunteers headed out and Cote got busy on the phone.
‘The calls just started rolling in. ‘I need a ride here,’ ‘I have two horses here,’ ‘I have four horses here.’ One person we just picked up had 30 minis to move,” said Cote.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 60 horses had come through her farm and hundreds more have been shipped out to other locations.
On average, her team has been able to shuttle out about 100 horses a day to various locations around B.C.
“A lovely lady in Delta has a mini-farm and she volunteered to take all 30 minis.”
While many of the people who have come down have friends and family to stay with, some need temporary shelter.
“There is one family specifically that we are housing at a friend’s house right now. It’s a family of six, their two dogs and two horses and I believe they have three goats too.”
For the most part, Cote has stayed on the farm, running things by phone, but she did make one trip.
A few days ago, the Bridge Lake area was put under fire alert.
“I went up to get my mom out.”
Once her family was save, she went back to work.
Last week, Cote put the word out on Facebook that they need donations of hay to help with the horses. But the response was so great that they now have too much hay to store.
“We are sharing it with other farms that need it,” said Cote.
Some of the horses also need medical attention so Cote said cash donations are welcome. The tack store CJ Brookes in Chilliwack has set up a donation box for people who want to help out Cote’s efforts. You can also call Cote at 250-706-2198 to offer support and donations.