The staff at the Red River Roping and Riding Arena north of Prince Albert, Sask., were told to evacuate the facility Monday afternoon around 4:15 p.m. CST as a wildfire approached. Thirty cattle and 22 horses are boarded at the site and the staff didn't have any place to put them, so they put out a call for help.
"The phone rang off the hook … help arrived so much that they had to turn people away," Candice Sinitoski, president of the riding arena, said Monday evening. "Every animal is gone. They're safe."
Horse trailers arrived in droves. One man took multiple trips getting all the cattle out of the arena. Sinitoski wasn't there in person, but said she's been monitoring the situation from a far.
"Part of my heart was ripped out because I could see the pictures of the smoke," she said. "We just hope and pray that the arena is going to be safe."
The wildfire was first reported around 2:30 p.m. CST Monday afternoon. It rapidly spread north of Prince Albert, which is about 135 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, and about 36 homes were evacuated.
On Tuesday morning, Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne told CBC Saskatchewan's The Morning Edition that no structures had burned yet, but that many were still at risk.
Sinitoski said she's just grateful for help.
"I can't thank the community enough. People that I don't even know that came forward to help us out. That says a lot about Prince Albert and the community that surrounds it."
A local animal kennel has put out a message of help as well. Arsenal K9 is accepting any dogs or cats from evacuees and will keep them in the kennel for free.
"People have a lot on their minds when something like this happens. So I just wanted to take the stress off of them a little bit," said Jason Arsenault, owner of Arsenal K9. "Wanting to have a safe haven for dogs and cats."
People quickly took him up on the offer. Staff at the kennel were accepting pets until 10 p.m. CST on Monday night.
"We're just glad that we can help," Arsenault said. "I think it comes along with being a small place and we know everybody pretty much, so I think it's a good thing to do our part."
Arsenault said the staff at the kennel can only see smoke, but that it's scary to have the fire so close. Arsenault said they will continue to accept animals if the fire grows and more people have to leave their their homes.
"We have 10 dogs now, and we do have room for more," he said. "So anyone needs these animals taken care of? We've got space."