Tips for Developing a Firewise Evacuation Plan

Wildfire can quickly become a real threat to rural landowners and when horses are involved, action needs to be taken quickly to save the lives of your animals and reduce property damage.
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Tips for Developing a Firewise Evacuation Plan
A Firesafe Area should be as large as possible, with non-flammable fencing and footing such as a large, fenced in riding arena. | Photo: Alayne Blickle/Horses for Clean Water

Huge wildfires are devastating parts of eight Western US states right now, some of the largest in recent history. Wildfire can quickly become a real threat to rural landowners and when horses are involved, action needs to be taken quickly to save the lives of your animals and reduce property damage. Being proactive is the safest plan. Use these tips to begin your pre-wildfire evacuation planning.

Fires on horse properties can have different causes–from barn fires, to hazardous materials spills, to lightening strikes, to wildfire spreading–all of which may require emergency evacuation. When living in a dry, flammable environment it is imperative that you are prepared to quickly move your horses to a safe area –fire travels rapidly, especially when wind’s involved.

If a wildfire breaks out in your area, decide early on whether you need to leave. Late evacuation is a deadly option, risking loss of lives and property. If you are unprepared or wait until the last minute to evacuate, you could be told by emergency officials to leave your horses behind. Once you leave your property, you have no way of knowing how long you will be kept out of the area. If left behind, your horses could be unattended for days without care, food or water. If you decide to stay and actively defend your property from fire, be aware of the risks

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Written by:

Alayne Blickle, a lifelong equestrian and ranch riding competitor, is the creator/director of Horses for Clean Water, an award-winning, internationally acclaimed environmental education program for horse owners. Well-known for her enthusiastic, down-to-earth approach, Blickle is an educator and photojournalist who has worked with horse and livestock owners since 1990 teaching manure composting, pasture management, mud and dust control, water conservation, chemical use reduction, firewise, and wildlife enhancement. She teaches and travels North America and writes for horse publications. Blickle and her husband raise and train their mustangs and quarter horses at their eco-sensitive guest ranch, Sweet Pepper Ranch, in sunny Nampa, Idaho.

2 Responses

  1. re: Tips for Developing a Firewise Evacuation Plan

    Call the fire dept. over occasionally. Your horses will get used to people in big, dusty clothing and the firemen will become somewhat familiar with the overall layout of your yard and your fire precautions/ assembly points, etc. This all helps prevent

  2. re: Tips for Developing a Firewise Evacuation Plan

    In 2008 we went through the Triangle-Complex Fire in Southern California.  I documented our experience on my website "silhouettefarm.com".  It showed us how quickly a fire and conditions can change, from what is a distant non-threat

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