PHOENIX FROM THE FLAMES: Stricken animal shelter on Spain’s Costa del Sol back in action just days after massive Sierra Bermeja wildfire

WITHIN days of the ADANA animal shelter evacuating 60 dogs into the care of volunteers after a fierce wildfire, people have started dumping unwanted pets nearby.

With parts of the countryside still smouldering, from the smoke has appeared the rescue centre’s latest recruits – aptly named Phoenix and Pegasus.

They were found tied up on the main road near Adana’s base in Casares, which had to be hastily abandoned as a devastating wildfire scorched nearly 10,000 hectares in the Sierra Bermeja on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Despite only starting the clear-up operation on Wednesday, kind hearted duo Susie Brown and Reg Winkworth took in the two lovable dogs the very next day, without a moment’s hesitation.

The dogs were collected at 7am after they had been abandoned and chained up on the main road nearby. Winkworth said that Brown wanted to give them ‘two very poignant names’, so the canines were aptly named Phoenix and Pegasus.

The sweet pair were said to have been brought in ‘starving’. Winkworth said: “They’re safe now so that’s the most important thing.” 

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NEW ARRIVAL: ADANA has taken in abandoned dogs just days after being forced to evacuate. Picture: The Olive Press

Carlos, who has worked at ADANA for the past five years said he was really upset that the canines had been left, describing the dogs as ‘sweet’ and ‘affectionate’. He said he was ‘very grateful to be around dogs every day’ but noted the sad things he has also witnessed due to the nature of the job. 

Two more dogs were also abandoned on Wednesday and placed into foster care with some of ADANA’s volunteers.

Winkworth maintained that despite the cards ADANA have been dealt ‘we are still continuing’. And things seem to be going well as on Friday and Saturday the evacuated dogs will start being brought back into the pens, which will hopefully be staged over three days.

A family that was volunteering had taken in six dogs from the shelter on the Sunday evacuation and they will hopefully be returning to ADANA’s kennels very soon.

Some volunteers have also ended up adopting the dogs that they helped take in on Sunday after the traumatic evacuation.

On Wednesday we spoke with Brown who described the job they had ahead of them as a ‘huge undertaking’, saying: “I just want to have something magic so everything will be clean and all repaired.”

However Brown said that due to ‘the amount of help we got from all the volunteers and other people the shelter will hopefully be able to start returning back to normal much earlier than expected.

At the moment the shelter which is self supporting and completely voluntary has around eight volunteers helping with the clean-up.

The fire break which saved the shelter that was surrounded by flames was only cut down three weeks ago, as prior to this the grass and vegetation was very long. Winkworth said it was lucky they had cleared it ‘as if we hadn’t taken the precautions we would’ve been gone’.

The solar panels that the shelter installed to replace their ‘old generator’ had  miraculously managed to remain intact despite the heat from the nearby wildfire. And luckily the shelter’s water tank with a capacity of 19,000 litres , survived, although Winkworth said that the flames came ‘within 15 metres’.

The shelter has also bought 1,000 litres of bottled still water and are about to bring in two new large containers just to be prepared. Winkworth reiterated, ‘we’re getting organised, and ready to go’.

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DEVASTATION: Fire approached within a few metres of the sheltefr’s main pens

On Wednesday, the first day of the clean-up, three members of staff and five volunteers came and  ‘Blitzed the place’, according to Brown, who was extremely optimistic about what they had managed to achieve that day.

Brown described how there had been ‘lots of smoke damage inside the pens’ which had to be washed down on Wednesday and repainted.

And on Thursday it was clear to see why Brown was so positive as the volunteers had done an amazing job with the painting so far, and the pens looked completely different to the ash covered mess we had walked into on Tuesday.

Winkworth also noted that the kennel had ‘an asbestos roof so we’re lucky it’s flame resistant’ which also helped curb the damage they received.

Unfortunately after surveying the damage, volunteer Andrew exclaimed that ‘the pipe’s gone’, the pipe that the shelter had had specially rigged in order to receive water from the mountains above had melted during the fire so this is going to have to be completely replaced.

The outermost fences are also going to have to be fixed so that the dogs are safe. 

Although the fire is now deemed to be at Level 0 by INFOCA, it was surprising to hear from one of the volunteers that ‘there’s still fire up there, there’s a tree and a root still burning.’

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VOLUNTEERS: All helping on the clean-up

Winkworth also described the added pressure of having ‘officials ringing us up asking why we haven’t done repairs to the roof’.

It was heart-warming to see the staff-members and volunteers laughing and joking with each other during the clean-up showing their hope and optimism about the future of the shelter.


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