Without fanfare, a group of women from Langley and Maple Ridge have been hauling hay and other supplies into towns that have been evacuated due the wildfires, and rescuing horses in the process.
Langley resident, Sheryl Luker-McLelland is one of those ‘crazy cowgirls,’ who has made at least seven trips to various regions, including Loon Lake, Princeton, Kamloops and 100 Mile House, hauling hay and pellets and trailering out horses, even reuniting a pair of horses that had become separated when the Cache Creek evacuation order came down.
“I’m self-employed, so I could just go and do this,” said Luker-McLelland.
“People in the horse industry stick together. I just know that once you get up to these places and see the need you don’t want to leave. You cry a bit and you keep going.”
On Wednesday, she made a quick stop in Langley where E&H Hitch re-aligned her hitch for free, before she was off again —this time to Ashcroft — hauling a trailer filled with hay and medical supplies.
Later that day, she was back on the road, driving through the Fraser Canyon to Ashcroft, to bring donated medical supplies fortwo horses that had their hooves burned in the fire, she said.
The group, which includes around nine haulers, was started by “Amanda’s Amazing Haulers” out of Maple Ridge. They have contacted members of the local horse community, asking for donations to bring to areas in distress.
The response has mainly been amazing, she said. Farmer Christina Campbell donated 70 bales of hay. The Langley Riders were headed up to help as well, she said.
Luker-McLelland hauled the hay up to Barriere where more than 20 evacuated horses were being kept. When she arrived, there were only 10 bales of hay to share among the horses. She dropped off 60 more.
The need is great, she said.
“My phone doesn’t stop pinging with people looking for help.”
Having already burned $1,200 in fuel to get around, the Langley horsewoman has had a lot of crazy adventures, including driving highways where ash fell like rain.
“I got a police escort at Loon Lake,” said Luker-McLelland. “The fire was right beside the road.”
It hasn’t been just horses the group has rescued, she said.
“One of our group rescued a little potbelly pig that was left behind in the evacuation. The pig, we named Wilber, was brought to Prince George.”
Luker-McLelland has been to Princeton, Kamloops, 100 Mile and Cache Creek, Loon Lake, with her co-pilots always by her side.
“My dogs, Jewels, Dolly and Nugget, are great helpers,” she said.
She said they are going to keep helping as long as help is needed. Asked what the group needs, Luker-McLelland replied, gas cards.