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Humane Society volunteers save hundreds of animals from the Border 32 Fire

When the San Diego Humane Society's Emergency Response Team got deployed to the Border 32 Fire on Wednesday, they arrived to the sun going down in a rural community during a state of emergency.

"The first night was, it was chaotic," said Lt. Clinton Ganus with the San Diego Humane Society Emergency Response Team, describing a scene with roadblocks, fire trucks everywhere and an active fire burning all around them. But they got to work immediately saving animals in harm’s way.

"The areas we were in, doing evacuations, there was actually active fires burning around when we were getting animals out of properties kind of like last-minute situations," he said.  

The response team found one remote property with dozens of animals surrounded by flames, trapped in cages and tied up. The terrain was treacherous.

"They (the animal rescuers) couldn’t get down to the property due to the fact that it was actively on fire," he said. "The fire department had to cut them an access point to get into the property to get the animals out. So it was up a very steep hill, and all night long they were (saving animals). I mean cows, dogs, chickens, pigs, all the animals you can think of."

More than 100 animals were found on the property, and the county is now conducting an animal cruelty investigation.

So far, the San Diego Humane Society’s Emergency Response Team has done hundreds of animal welfare checks and rescues during the Border 32 Fire.

Despite the risk to their safety, the grueling heat wave and pulling an all-nighter, every single member of the team did something that might surprise some observers.

"They all showed back up," said Ganus. "They all showed back up today, I couldn't be prouder of them."

And most of them do it for no pay.

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