Horse Runs Toward Flames to Rescue Mare and Colt During California Wildfire in Simi Valley
The Easy Fire ignited around 6:15 a.m. on Oct. 30, 2019, in Simi Valley, California. Due to hurricane-force winds, the fire swept through a shocking 1,300 acres of land in under three hours.
Video footage captured by CBS Los Angeles shows locals frantically attempting to save several horses and transport them to safer locations while flames rage and thick smoke obscures their vision.
Dozens of good Samaritans scurry near a fenced-off ranch area, attempting to get hold of and lead as many horses as possible away from the encroaching fire.
"That was scary, so scary," horse owner Dan Dollar of Newbury Park told USA Today after moving his horses. "Just the darkness and the wind and smoke."
Dollar was one of many braving the hazardous roads with horse trailers that morning, following an evacuation order from the authorities. Ventura County Animal Services put out a cry for help to anyone in the area with horse trailers that could assist in transporting the many terrified, errant horses to safety.
The Hansen Dam Horse Park stables in San Fernando Valley, among others, answered the call for help by offering shelter to over 125 horses evacuated from the Simi Valley fires.
"We are going to keep this place open if we need, if anybody needs this space," said animal technician Lucy Ruiz with the Animal Services Department, working at Hansen Dam. "The stalls are here for these horses that are being evacuated."
"It's super bad in there," said Peggy Lane of Reseda, who helped with rescue efforts elsewhere, at the Elvenstar Show Stables. "I've never seen it like this."
Southern California supports one of the biggest horse-racing communities in the United States. According to CBS, all horses in close proximity to the Easy Fire were moved to safety, with one exception: a mare that tragically broke her front legs in the race to escape.
The Easy Fire, along with the Getty Fire, necessitated the evacuation of tens of thousands of Southern California residents. Racing horses were not the only non-human residents that needed to be moved; livestock and domestic animals were also evacuated by the thousands.
At some ranches, horses that couldn't be relocated were left in their enclosures. Some were let loose with plans in place to find them once the fires had been extinguished.
Some animals, in the panic, lost their way. The ranch owners and animals that did make it out were evacuated with little indication of when they would be able to return to their homes.
Both the ferocity of the 2019 California wildfires and the casualty count are far fewer than in previous years. First responders and good Samaritans, buoyed by tremendous community support, are battling to extinguish the flames.