2008 IAM News Archives

Guide Dogs Rescued as California Wildfire Advanced

Thu. November 20, 2008

Fueled by 70 mile-per-hour winds, wildfires roared through the hills around Los Angeles last week, forcing an emergency evacuation of the Guide Dogs of America (GDA) breeding and training facility in Sylmar, CA.

“At some points, burning tree limbs were flying past staff members as we loaded the dogs,” said Chuck Jordan, Director of Programs for GDA. “I can’t believe how fast the puppy raisers mobilized and came to our aid. We are all safe and appreciate the help from everyone.”

A half-dozen GDA staff members began the evacuation at 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, braving smoke and ash as they loaded the 69 dogs and puppies into six vans - using crates, tie-downs and even the front seats. The hasty effort took only an hour and the dogs were on their way to the Rose Bowl, where they were temporarily placed with puppy raisers and area volunteers. Click here to view an extraordinary video about the evacuation.

While U.S. Forest Service workers battled the inferno on the ground, IAM pilots from Local 946 employed by Dyncorp flew non-stop, dropping tons of fire retardant material from tankers and helicopters for Cal Fire. Supported by mechanics and staff at McClellan Field, their combined efforts were no doubt instrumental in saving the GDA facility, which suffered ash accumulation but no serious damage.

“I am so thankful for the efforts of the volunteers and staff associated with Guide Dogs of America,” said Western Territory GVP Lee Pearson. “I’m also grateful for the work of our members at Cal Fire, who have had an incredibly long and arduous fire season.”