Nearby fire leads to Nevada County’s Animal Place buying its own firetruck |

Nearby fire leads to Nevada County’s Animal Place buying its own firetruck

Sarah Hunter
Staff Writer
Hannah Beins, Animal Care director, hangs out on the organization's new firetruck.
Submitted photo

Animal Place had an almost-disastrous event occur earlier this summer.

The farm animal sanctuary has over 200 rescued animals and 600 acres of fields and pastures for them to live in, not to mention hay for the animals to eat. With the hot weather and the dry grass, the area has been a danger zone.

Next door, a neighbor’s compost pile spontaneously combusted. The fire spread to Animal Place’s property, and though no humans, animals or infrastructures were harmed, it gave the employees and volunteers a wake-up call.

“Because there’s so much steam and heat building up in the compost pile, and there’s feces and straw and moisture — it just combusts. Spontaneously,” said Hannah Beins, the Animal Care director. “The inside of the pile gets really hot, if you put your hand in there, it almost hurts. It just gets hotter and hotter, and then — fire! We haven’t had any problems with our compost pile, but it really opens your eyes.”

What’s one to do after a scare like this?

Buy a firetruck, of course.

Animal Place purchased a full-sized firetruck from Higgins Fire District. It was complete with 750 gallons of water and a full tank of gas, and Higgins Fire District donated some replacement hoses as well, all for $8000. The average price for a fire truck varies greatly, from estimates of $50,000 to $1.2 million without equipment. Needless to say, the sanctuary got it for a steal.

Higgins Fire District didn’t just give Animal Place the truck and walk away. They gave the employees a three-hour training session, teaching them how to run the fire truck and the limitations they have.

“The truck takes three people to operate at a minimum,” Beins said. “One to drive and operate nobs, two to man the hose. We’re not allowed to drive it off the property and start extinguishing neighbor’s fires or anything. And if there’s a huge fire, we’re not going to try to tackle it ourselves just because we have a truck. We really hope we never have to use it.”

Animal Place has been taking initiative with their own compost pile, as per the advice of the firefighters. Spreading out the compost instead of piling it up high reduces the risk of combustion. Further still, they have fire extinguishers on every vehicle, in every barn, office and house on the property.

Firefighters recommend people check to make sure all fire extinguishers are up to date within their house, spread out all compost piles, even small ones, and have a plan for if a fire does start near your home.

Sarah Hunter is a University of Nevada journalism student and intern with The Union. Contact her at

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.