Horse Community Rallies While California Wildfires Rage

More than 500 horses were moved from the fire zone to fairgrounds evacuation sites in Sonoma County alone.

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As almost 11,000 firefighters struggled to contain a massive string of 15 wildfires in California’s wine country, horse owners teamed with veterinarians and evacuation site operators to move animals out of the blazes’ ways. 

Last week, high winds and dry conditions fueled wildfires that swept through six Northern California counties, driving residents and horse owners from their homes. By Oct. 15, the fires had scorched more than 217,500 acres, destroyed an estimated 5,700 structures, and caused 40 human deaths, according to CAL FIRE, an agency that tracks fire incidents statewide.

While the fires raged, more than 500 horses were moved from the fire zone to fairgrounds evacuation sites in Sonoma County alone. Still others were moved to evacuation sites in Orange, Mendocino, and Napa counties.

“We had 450 horses at the fairgrounds in Sonoma County and 100 at the fairgrounds in Solano County,” said John Madigan, BS, DVM, MS, professor of medicine and epidemiology and head of the University of California, Davis, (UC Davis) Veterinary Emergency Response Team. “But in some cases we had to evacuate and re-evacuate (the horses) because the fire expanded. That happened in Napa and adjacent areas

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Written by:

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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