Linn County 'Cowboy Convoy' helping to evacuate livestock from danger areas

Residents of Linn County have banded together to help out their neighbors and others from around the region.

Posted: Sep 11, 2020 6:03 PM
Updated: Sep 11, 2020 6:22 PM

Crawfordsville, Ore. -- A group of volunteers from around Linn County are banding together as a convoy of sorts for evacuating livestock out of areas in or around wildfires all over the state. 

"This morning my sister said we're coming over here," said Jamie Frasieur, who was staged in Crawfordsville on Friday afternoon with the rest of the convoy. "This is our town even though we now live in Albany. And she put out a message saying we're coming to Crawfordsville school to stage and Dave Butler from Lebanon he was up in Sweet Home, he was up in Thriftway and he started with his crew headed here."

The group has been largely organizing and coordinating efforts through Facebook and this morning was helping out neighbors near Crawfordsville and around the area adjacent to the Holiday Farm Fire.

"This morning I was sitting over in the staging area in Scio this morning and at 10:00 I gota call that said I got 52 head of cattle that need to be moved and the fire is on the backside of the property right now. So I put out some message on Facebook for horse trailers and stock trailers to come and move."

But portions of the group have split off to provide help for other disaster areas in Oregon. The convoy's volunteer based organizing is somewhat similar to the 'Cajun Navy' a group of residents in the states of Texas and Louisiana that have organized boat rescues and aid efforts during floods or hurricanes. 

"We've run calls in the Scio area, we've had some that broke off to go down to the McKenzie River area to help with some animal evacuations down there," says Dave Butler, a retired firefighter who served for 20 years. He, along with others, have largely been organizing the volunteer group. "We had some that went up to the Molalla, Oregon City area yesterday to go up there. It's wonderful to see all these people come together."

"I'm out on a disability so I can't go fight the fire but I sure as hell can help get people and their animals out of their way."

At Crawfordsville School, stock trailers backed up onto Highway 228, prompting a request from law enforcement officials to find a bigger spot to stage their efforts. But the convoy has been largely working hand in hand with local agencies, some of whom are friends. As the convoy ushers livestock out of danger areas, fire crews are freed up to work. 

"They have our phone numbers and everything so that they can go straight in and take care of it," Alexis Delair said. "They don't have to worry about the livestock because we let em know 'hey we've been here, we've got the livestock. They're good to go when you say go'."

As of late Friday afternoon, the group was staged in Sweet Home and had 30 trailers ready to help. One member of the convoy, who normally lives in Monroe, said he had made around seven livestock runs in the last few days, as far up north as Canby. 

"This is our state," Butler said. "This is Oregon. We love it. These are our woods and our families are losing their animals, they're losing their property, they're losing their loved ones. We're burning from one side of the state to the other. And I'll do whatever I can to help."

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