All photos courtesy of the LA Times.
Unfortunately, shortly after I posted on Friday my trainer’s ranch, Rancho Sol del Pacifico, sadly went up in flames. They lost everything, including some stallions, as I understand. There is a fund currently available for donations via Meghan Holt’s Facebook page if you feel so incline to donate. Just about everyone in the Iberian horse community knows the Holts. It’s truly a tragedy but considering how quickly the fire moved I think they are fortunate they were able to save any of their horses.
Smoke from the fire as horses are evacuated to the coast in Malibu, CA.
Valeria is safe for now. She is a few miles north of the closest threat. As long as the winds don’t shift she should continue to stay safe. I can’t say the concern for her safety doesn’t keep me worried when I should be sleeping. Currently the Santa Ana winds are blowing southwest. It’s awful for the firefighters and extremely dangerous but at least it’s pushing the flames towards the coast rather than inland where it won’t meet any opposition.
Valeria is the blue dot.
If you’re a Facebook friend I’m sure you’ve seen all the lost/missing horses I’ve posted that have either been set free or evacuated without an owner. It’s truly devastating to see the horrors from last year’s fire, during the same time, repeated. However, with the nature of these rapid spreading wildfires, I don’t think we’ll ever be fully prepared. Most people let their animals go just to give them a chance at survival as the flames overwhelmed homes and barns. One report said a man let all his exotic birds go because he couldn’t evacuate them. I did see a few strange birds in the sky earlier today, so I believe some made it. Hopefully they’ll find their way to the LA Zoo (which also evacuated animals on Friday due to a fire that broke out near them, however it was quickly extinguished and now all animals have returned).
Augie, whose owner Hilary had to leave him with rescue workers as she evacuated. They were eventually reunited 24 hours later.
I’m leaving the San Fernando Valley due to dangerous levels of smoke in the air. I’ve been battling some asthma flare ups and lung distress in the last month. All this smoke isn’t helping me improve. My weather apps lists ‘Smoke’ as the weather for Burbank and the air quality was somewhere above 160 making it dangerous to breathe.
Alpacas and horses left at the beach while owners were forced to evacuate.
In light of all this, I have re-evaluated bringing Aria north until I have my own truck. I have a trailer but always borrowed my parents’ truck whenever I want to haul. For evacuation preparedness, I think I need to have the whole rig available first before I bring Aria into this fresh hell that is the Los Angeles fire season. So far all these fires seem to move too fast to appropriately respond with proper evacuation measures but I’d rather have every option available to me, even if it all happens so fast all I can do is lead or ride her out of danger in the end. This is one more reason I want to move back to San Diego. Not that SD doesn’t have its share of life threatening wildfires.
A pair of donkeys found running loose in the fires.
I will be making an effort to volunteer in the coming weeks as all these displaced horses will still be in their temporary homes at the evacuation facilities. I’m down the street from the Los Angeles Equestrian Center and the Hanson Dam Equestrian Center which have both taken over 300 horses collectively. I don’t think most of them will be returning home any time soon and after the initial flood of volunteers has dwindled, those poor horses will still be there. That’s when I think volunteering will be most important. I had meant to get certified in fire evacuation through the local sheriff and fire departments last year so I could officially go behind fire lines to help evacuate horses. I don’t have a great excuse for why I didn’t, other than life in LA seemed to get in the way but since this fire disaster has happened back to back and I plan to have a horse up here, I really want to ensure I am able to get to my horse and other horses who are in need. It almost feels like a necessity as I read all these articles about owners who were forced to leave their animals behind hoping and trusting that rescue workers would care for them.
Horses at the Sea Wall in Malibu, CA
I hope these fires are doused quickly with as little additional damage done. The reports grow more depressing by the hour but our brave responders are doing their best against Mother Nature. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone effected by these fires.