Over 200 horses have been evacuated from fire threatened areas of Los Angeles County, USA, as the so-called Station fire continues to threaten properties in the tinder dry hills.
Mary Lukens, Emergency Coordinating Officer for the LA County Department of Animal Care and Control, said: “I’ve got 115 volunteers and 3 rescue sites for the horses, spread over a 60 mile area.
“We have a very active horse community here with all types of horses from leisure, hunter jumpers, endurance to cattle horses. I run the equine response team. All our volunteers, evacuating the horses, are horse people.”
The Station fire, so-called by the fire service because it started near a ranger station in La Canada Flintridge, has burned over 144,000 acres and is the largest conflagration in Los Angeles County history.
Ms Lukens said the horse owners of Los Angeles are primed for such emergencies: “The people of Los Angeles accept they live in a fire risk area and are prepared for it.
“We’ve been in existence as a department for over 10 years. We get at least one or two fires a year but this is the first time we’ve opened up three rescue locations.”
Los Angeles County pays to feed both the horses and the volunteers, working out of the three rescue centres in Griffith Park, Pierce College and Antelope Valley fairgrounds.
Pierce College Equestrian Center in Woodland Hills, has so far taken in 87 horses, a cow, a boar, four lamas and two sheep. Instructions to owners are: “No stallions; Bring horse, owner name and phone number; Bring a water tub and medicines for your animal and bring feed if you can.”
Megan Silveira, a Los Angeles County animal rescue coordinator, said: “We will keep going and accepting animals until they (the County) say to stop.”
Two firefighters have lost their lives in the Station fire but there have been no horse fatalities.
Latest reports say the fire is 38 per cent contained.