Rescuers rally on social media to save horses from wildfires
California’s wildfires reached San Diego County Thursday as a blazed named the Lilac fire near Bonsall quickly grew to engulf thousands of acres.
The newest fire raged through agricultural lands to the west of Interstate 15, affecting rural communities and prompting a scramble to save horses.
The Lilac fire quickly spread to cover 2,500 acres with zero containment by Thursday afternoon, prompting evacuations in several areas and affecting dozens of buildings. California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in San Diego County on Thursday night.
The San Luis Rey Downs training center was hit badly, with several barns affected and some deaths among the horses, according to local reports.
Locals quickly sprung to action on social media, sharing news of what was happening and aiming to coordinate rescue efforts.
URGENT! Horse trailers needed! if headed 2 lilac fire with truck/trailer contact DART program leaders 1 760-267-0104 Kevin (602) 503-0922 Holly These people are dispatching trailers when they get the word from Animal Control,Cal Fire u must call/text 2 get in 2 evac areas!!
— Tischa Culver (@TischaCulver) December 7, 2017
The Del Mar Racetrack threw open its doors for evacuees, and the owners encouraged people to bring bedding and food for the horses. Facebook groups were filled with posts aiming to coordinate the effort.
Del Mar’s Josh Rubenstein on housing San Luis Rey horses: “We will take every single horse we can get. We’re open to anything with four legs.”
— Jeremy Balan (@BH_JBalan) December 7, 2017
A reporter for Fox 5 San Diego captured scenes of the horses fleeing.
Other photos showed horses being led through smoke to safety.
Horse rescues have happened elsewhere this week. In Ojai in Ventura County, a group of volunteers organized themselves over Facebook and told photographers they’d saved some 100 horses from the nearby blaze.
California has been hit with multiple fires in multiple counties this week, stretching from Ventura in the north through LA County and Orange County right down to San Diego County.
A deadly combination of strong Santa Ana winds and dry vegetation have led to the ongoing blazes. Over 200,000 people have been evacuated and the fires have affected some 9.5 million people. California’s fire season has stretched later into the year than usual and local conditions are drier than normal.