Raging inferno miraculously spares hundreds of zoo animals as owner loses nearby home 

  • Shelby Lin Erdman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
4:28 p.m Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 National/World News
Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Smoke from the Santa Rosa and Napa Valley, Calif., wildfire covers the sun as the inferno rages through the area on October 10, 2017.

Deadly wildfires in Northern California have killed at least 40 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses, but the owner of a wildlife park in Santa Rosa is one of the lucky ones. 

Peter Lang, 77, may have lost his home, but the raging inferno spared his Safari West wildlife preserve and the hundreds of animals that live there, according to KCRA 3.

As the flames surrounded Lang’s park, he had a choice to make: leave and save his nearby home or stay and fight to save the more than 1,000 animals, which had not been evacuated, The Press Democrat reported.

"I have a thousand souls I'm responsible for," he told the Press Democrat.

"It wasn't even a decision. This is what I had to do," Lang said in explaining why he stayed at the park to try and protect the myriad of animals, including giraffes, monkeys, cheetahs and zebras.

As the area around the preserve burned last week, fortunately only small areas of the sanctuary caught fire.

"I did not lose a single animal," he said. "It is amazing."

The danger is not over, yet. Critical conditions continue in northern California, but Cal Fire said firefighters are making progress in the battle to contain the flames. 

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