A week after the Holiday Fire, Goleta residents continue to pick up the pieces of their charred homes.
The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is located near the area where the fire started and is home to rescued birds and other wild animals. The folks who run the facility say there is more destruction there than they expected and they’re in desperate need of a new facility.
They’ve been operating on the property since 2012, offering aid to injured animals. The Holiday Fire burned right up to their fence and vegetation line. Volunteers were allowed escorted access into the property to evacuate the birds.
"It was pretty scary and horrific just driving to Fairview Road, flames on either side of our car," said Julia Parker, Director of Animal Care. "Flames were in everyone’s front yard. We couldn’t see through the smoke."
Despite the dangerous Holiday Fire conditions, organizers went to work re-rescuing the animals.
The animals were evacuated to the Santa Barbara County Humane Society and won’t be able to return due to unsafe care conditions.
The staff at Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network care for more than 3,000 injured animals in a year, including wild birds, turtles, raccoons, and skunks.
"While physical structures didn’t burn, all of our avocado tree, fence line vegetation, irrigation hoses, bioswales need to be replaced," said Ariana Katovich, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. "The building where we keep our baby birds was so damaged with smoke and ash, it’s too compromised to let our baby animals return."
Organizers say the rehabilitation facility needs to be demolished. In its place, they are hoping for a new building.
In the design plans, they want to include an animal laboratory where they can do x-rays and blood work. Also included would be oil spill response wash spaces, warming and cooling centers, baby mammal rooms, kitchens for animal and human food preparation, a break room, staff offices, and an isolation room.
The new building will be 30×90 and cost $2.5 million. They are asking solely for the public’s help in donations.
Workers say they’ve been operating on a shoestring budget, working out of a small trailer for the past six years and the upgrade is critical.
"Previously, we were operating out of a room that’s 15×10," Parker said. "Pretty much May through August we are caring for 100 baby birds that need to be fed from dawn to dusk and we need space to do that."
Because the baby animals can’t return, they are hoping to start demolition this month and break ground once all of the money has been raised next June.
The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is accepting donations on its website.