Safe haven for furry evacuees at Lismore Showgrounds
WITH Lismore Showgrounds currently housing a wide range of livestock from horses to alpacas, you would be forgiven for thinking it was showtime.
Instead the North Lismore facility has become a safe haven for people and animals escaping the Mount Nardi fire.
When residents were forced to flee the dangerous fire last week, North Coast National Agricultural and Industrial Society secretary Mark Bailey said he approached the show society for permission to offer the showgrounds as an evacuation centre for livestock.
Mr Bailey said the showgrounds are currently housing 110 horses, 20 goats, 10 alpacas, seven chickens, and one sheep, as well as a number of dogs.
He said there were also around 150 displaced people camping on the grounds, using a wide variety of shelters including tents, gazebos and caravans, and he was expecting more to arrive.
Mr Bailey said while the showgrounds weren't an official evacuation point, he said it was the ideal place for people to be able to bring their animals to safety and to camp.
"If you need to evacuate and you have animals you can keep most farm animals here," he said.
"Obviously you are still responsible for their care, but they will have a safe place to stay."
Department of Primary Industries spokeswoman said the organisation supported the show society's gesture, and have delivered emergency fodder to be used to feed the displaced animals as part of their bush fire assistance scheme.
A DPI veterinarian has also been visiting both the Nimbin and Lismore Showgrounds to check on the health and wellbeing of the evacuated animals.
Mr Bailey said he was pleasantly surprised by the support flowing into the showgrounds from the community.
"We've had our sponsors who have been generously helping the evacuees," he said.
"We've had donations from Norco and Coles, and the Salvos have been helping out. It's just been a fantastic response."
He said with the showgrounds already containing canteen facilities, North Coast National staff had been coming in to cook breakfast and dinner for evacuees, while The Winsome was providing lunches.
He said while he had been the first to offer the showgrounds as an evacuation point, he praised the community for rallying together to assist those displaced by the ongoing fires.
"It's been a community effort," he said.
"I've just been the one coordinating it all."