Kodiak Saves Flock From Fire

Photo by Bonnie Block January 19, 2006 Barn Fire
by owner, Diane Pagel (in her own words)

It's with a heavy heart that I write of a tragedy that happened at our place. We had a barn fire Thursday morning and the barn was destroyed. We lost some sheep, two of the barn cats, sheep and horse supplies/gear, hay/alfalfa/grain/all animal feed,  Jeff's (husband) music rehearsal/recording studio which included his rare, vintage guitars (one was a original pristine condition 1957 Fender Telecaster), Jeff's painting business gear, camping gear, farm supplies, and tons of other stuff.

It has been a nightmare and a horror that I will hear forever. Jeff woke up at 4:30ish and heard dogs barking and fire popping. The barn was on fire. Most of my dogs are on the bed or in the laundry room with the exception of the 2 pups. I raced down to the barn to get them out. On the far side of the barn is a 500 gal propane tank that was just filled. I saw fireballs and flames reaching over 40 feet in the air.

A couple of days ago I had moved Rio and Ray to the *big dog* kennels so they could get a new view. This saved their lives. Their normal kennel was filled with flames and fumes.  As it was, when I got to their kennels, the doghouse was in flames, the roof tarp was in flames and falling down in pieces everywhere.

Ray (Tess x Pleat pup) was barking for all he was worth. Rio was cowering in the corner. I flung open the door and Ray burst out and Rio was frozen. I had worked on making sure Rio had a good recall on him and when I called him, he looked up and ran to me. We all three raced to the house. I saw the flames were moving to the north side of the barn. I could hear sheep screaming. It will forever be the worst sound I have ever heard and will be etched in my brain forever.
 
We had 4 stalls with sheep in them. Two stalls had open access and one inside had Granny, my pet 14 yr old Clun Forest ewe. She has five generations on the farm. Arthritic, half blind, toothless, she had her own stall in the barn. Mom and lambs and pregnant ewe were in the lambing stall. The rest of the flock was split into hair and wool flocks. Kodiak, my Great Pyrenees was with his Clun Forest sheep.
 
The Fire chief appeared but no fire trucks...apparently someone saw the fire and gave them bad directions. They were 10-15 minutes away. Their station is in town about 2 miles away, but with the bad directions they had to turn around and go all the way back thru town to find us.  By this time, the fire had spread to the rest of the barn and we could only watch. The media appeared and stuck mics in our faces and started shooting. I just ran down to the two pastures and saw my Clun Forest Sheep were gone. Fearing the worst, I had thought that I had lost 20 sheep and Kodiak. The media asked "How do feel about this tragedy?"
 
I snarled in their faces and told them to leave the property but the media only retreated 20 feet. I told the Fire Chief to make them leave and they retreated to the edge of the property waiting for any opening.
 
Eleven trucks came out, thousands of gallons of water later and the fire was still not out. Since we live out in the country they had to haul water to the fires. Trucks ran all morning and hours later the fire was out. It was very hard to put out due to the hay that was stored. It was mind numbing to only be able to stand and watch our lives burn up. Most of what we hold dear to us was in the barn, Jeffís music and his studio and irreplaceable guitars, my sheep, our memories such as childhood items, school yearbooks, books, photographs, antique rocking horses, camping and other sporting goods; everything that was not being used in the house was stored everything in the barn. All memories; a large portion of our lives. Itís all rubble now.
 
We will see what the insurance will do. A quick estimate of a replacement barn (5 stall, tongue and groove), size of 60 x 70 ft is $65,000 or more. Insurance will cover $27,000. We donít know what the insurance will give us for Jeffís (Getty) guitars. A 1957 Telecaster similar to his was recently posted to a vintage guitar site valued at $25,000.  Heíll tell you the value of it to him was more than any amount of money that couldíve bought it.  He lost his lifeís passion in the fire. He is hollow inside. How do you replace his lifeís passion?
 
I lost my favorite ewe, Granny. She was my overseer and my best friend. Each year, she would take the weaned lambs as if they were her own and raise them. She was the matriarch. There were ewes with new borne lambs, a ewe ready to lamb and yearling lambs. They all were in the inside stalls and never had a chance. Granny has her own grave, on top of the hill where she stood for many years offering me free advice and now she is there, offering me advice still. The other sheep have a grave on top of the same hill, a place where the flock would gather. It was their favorite place on the farm and only befitting they are there now. Six deaths of my loving flock.
 
Two barn cats also died. Three managed to make it out, Rigby, Zorro and Henry. RIP Ringo and Luna.  The pet chicken who was Grannyís constant companion was found next to Granny. Granny and the chicken were best friends and often got into mischief together. Together in heaven they can cause mischief again.
 
My Clun Forest sheep were in one stall with Kodiak, the Great Pyrenees. They didnít want to leave and Kodi herded the sheep out of the stall. In the process he was singed on his back and legs. Without Kodi, I would have lost my preservation flock. He is a true hero. Thank you Kerry Wood for letting us have such a wonderful dog. Kodi did what he was bred to do; countless generations of these dogs have protected their flocks from danger. Instead of a four legged predator, he saved them from a fire predator. What was in his mind when his place of safety was now a place of hell? We are blessed to have him
 
Now, a few days later as we walk through the rubble we still cry. We find bits and pieces of our memories, part of a burned amp, part of a bridle, my old china set in bits and pieces, twisted metal that was part of a bike or the tractor. We hope to have the debris removed in a few days. The Insurance Fire investigator will be coming out. King County has been out. We have to deal with both and from what I have been told, it will not be pleasant. We want to rebuild the barn and studio and we hope the county will help us rather than impede us. Insurance will give us $1390 for debris removal which is only a fraction of the cost.  Permits, etc will all be money out of our pockets.  Itís depressing to see the barn burn up and our lifeís passion go up but to have to deal with the aftermath is just awful.
 
The community has been wonderful: Fellow musicians, Ultimate Frisbee players, Sheep people, Border Collie herding folks, horse folks,  Border Collie and Aussie rescue and friends and co-workers are wonderful and we are so grateful. The outpouring of love is amazing. We are so honored to have friends like you. The local feed store, Rocking E Feeds in Duvall, donated hay to tide us over on the day of the fire. My herding students (Amy and Jeff) have stepped up and helped with feed, dogs, and setting up a web page and working with local feed stores.  The herding community (Becky, Chris, Claire) have put together a benefit trial and are coordinating supplies. I am sure that I have missed people but you know who you are.  My brother rushed over and is a rock; my mom, who made sure we were fed. Friends, who came over and helped in many ways. Tony Castillos has been helping me each day. He is like my second father now since my father had passed away many years ago. For all of you we are grateful.

Sherry Grindeland from the Seattle Times came out and wrote a piece on the fire. Kodiak is featured and it is well-written.. We hope to have follow-up articles on this: Read article...

I am still numb now but wanted to get this out to people. We are far behind in calls and emails and we will catch up. So if you do not hear from us, be patient Amy Bradley is coordinating donations for us. Her contact is: Amy Bradley: amyinez@juno.com, Phone # 425-417-2037.  Also see the story by: KING 5, Seattle News TV

Special note:  We were alerted to this story by a great guy, Jeff Boone.  He's got a great website at www.jeffboone.com.  Jeff has much more information about this tragic fire and the heroic Pyr.  Be sure to visit and think about making a donation to help rebuild.

 


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