Hundreds of horses have been saved from the forest fires burning west of Kelowna, British Columbia, which has driven more than 11,000 people from their homes.
The fires broke out last weekend, on Saturday 18 July, and have quickly grown to cover more than 300 hectares.
Several organisations, including BC Interior Horse Rescue Society, the Canadian Disaster Animal Response Team and the British Columbia SPCA were involved in the animal rescue efforts, with many volunteers working overnight.
Kim Stinson, president of BC Interior Horse Rescue, said people had underestimated how quickly a fire can spread.
She said residents had not left enough time to get their livestock out, adding: “if you’re on alert, that’s when to get your livestock out.”
Some 30 to 40 trailers from around the region were driven into the fire area to evacuate animals, in an effort organised through word of mouth.
Rescue organisations have been overwhelmed with displaced animals, and although most of the evacuated horses are staying at three area foster centres, the farms desperately need donations of hay and food to ensure adequate supplies.
Kelowna suffered devastating fires in 2003, following which owners could not return to their farms for six weeks.
However, firefighters have largely managed to contain the most recent blaze, and roughly 6,000 evacuees were able to return to their homes on Wednesday.
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