Prompt action was needed when two brush fires broke out earlier this week in the mountains above the San Gabriel Valley. There were mandatory evacuations in some cities, where residents had to move very fast, taking only their clothes, pets, and few important documents with them to a safer area. On Monday afternoon, winds picked up and fanned the flames dangerously close to several farms in the foothills, which sparked a flood of calls from concerned horse owners. There were almost 200 horses all needing to be evacuated, and very little time to do it since there was potential for the fire to move quickly into that area.
In the event, two horse transport businesses which were rivals joined forces and sent drivers into a perilous territory to remove the animals from the fire-threat zone and to safety. While helicopters hovered above and smoke filled the air, horses were led from their trailers and into awaiting horse trailers. Kerrie Cargill, owner of KC Horse Transport describes the venture as a kind of organised chaos. The hardest part, she says, was moving so many horses with no plan. Fortunately, her staff really pitched in, with drivers coming back from vacation to help and others even sleeping in their trucks at Santa Anita, so as to be near the spot if something happened and they needed to get there quickly. Some of the workers from Santa Anita also went up the mountains to help rescue horses from rival stables. Cargill contacted Tom Hubbard, who owns Bob Hubbard Horse Transport, and between them, they secured seven trucks, which could each hold a maximum of 15 horses.
Allen Severinsen, a booking agent at Hubbard’s, said that in the normal course of events these companies would seldom work together. “But this is different”, he comments. “People will do what they need to do in the horse world in times of crisis because we love the horses.” He said that they evacuated animals from different ranches in the area, including the Rainbow Ranch in Asuza, Encanto Equestrian Center in Duarte, and Bliss Canyon Thoroughbred Farms in Bradbury. Some of them were transported to empty stables in Santa Anita Park while others were taken to the Fairplex in Pomona.
Food and bedding for the horses were donated by the Citrus Feed Company in La Verne and volunteers helped prepare the stalls for their arrival. Kerrie Cargill commented on how heartwarming it was to see how all of the community pitched in to help. She and Tom Hubbard are now on standby, waiting for notification from the local authorities that they can go and take the horses home again once the affected area is deemed safe.
Picture courtesy of www.sgvtribune.com