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Woman refuses to abandon alpacas in Riverside County's Buck fire

August 15, 2012 |  1:12 pm

Firefighters battling the Buck fire went to Debra Lawrence's trailer Tuesday night to tell her to evacuate the property, where she keeps a trailer, a shed and 15 alpacas in the foothills above Hemet.

But Lawrence, 61, refused to abandon her alpacas, even after animal control officials offered to transport them to safety. So she moved her alpacas to higher ground and spent the night in her Nomad trailer with her two dogs, two cats and a shotgun she uses to kill rattlesnakes, watching the movie “Smokin’ Aces” to stay awake.

By midnight Lawrence was out of danger. But the fire had come within 100 yards of her trailer.

“The fire was close, so close,” she said. “The whole sky was red. Red, red, red.”

Lawrence moved four months ago to the scrubby foothills that she calls “God’s country” after losing her home to foreclosure. Although she lost most of her belongings in that financial disaster, she held on to her trailer, and her alpacas, in this week's natural one.

Alpacas, she explained, produce “the No. 1 high-end fiber in the world.”

“It’s strong as wool, soft as cashmere and hypoallergenic,” she said.


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-- Phil Willon in Hemet

Photo: Debra Lawrence and some of her Alpacas in Hemet. Credit: Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times