Ignoring a mandatory fire evaculation order, Robert and Sherri Berntsen felt that they couldn’t leave their home. Not thinking of themselves, the animal lovers chose to stay behind to care for the animals there, according to kutv on Friday.
The Berntsens have been caring for local wildlife for years. They feed and provide water for the animals daily.
The Rockport fire started by a lighting strike on August 10. As fire tore through Utah’s Summit Valley, the Berntsens noticed the animals coming to the place they felt safe: their yard. That is when the couple decided they could not leave.
Several times the sheriff’s department told them to go. Instead, they watched as the fire crept closer, coming up to the ridge near their home. They watched as firefighters dropped water on their neighbor’s homes. They watched as bulldozer lines were dug to hold back the flames.
The Berntsens packed up their belongings. They realized the risk of not evacuating. Their house was large and surrounded by vegetation. But they knew they would be able to rebuild their house if necessary. For them, the right thing to do was to stay and care for the animals. And that is just what they did. Several times a day now they needed to refill buckets with fresh water for the animals.
Much of the surrounding vegetation is now gone. Brush, grass and juniper have burned to the ground. But the Berntsens never had to leave their home. Their neighbors have since been allowed to return to their houses.
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