Friday, December 8, 2017

Horses and fires in Southern California

Salvete Omnes,
 I have been following the reports about the Southern California fires - I used to live in San Diego long time ago and still have some friends there.
The Santa Ana winds, they used to bring warm and dry air after the November wetness and rains have brought fires and danger  this time - although fires seem to have been an integral part of the California ecosystem and some plants - perhaps the most dangerous is eucalyptus -  need the fire to release seeds so they can actually explode in fireballs etc. The ecosystem there is awfully fragile and fire adapted, while urban development  caused many communities to have been built in the chaparral and shrub country, and owning to the nature of Southern California these burn and burn, often and deadly. This article tries to dispel some myths about the chaparral fires and ecosystem.
One of my college friends had fought California fires for several years during his prison sentence and being quite tough Chicano guy he told that that was the scariest and most dangerous thing he ever had done. So good luck to all firefighters there.

Ad rem that is to horses,
this part of California is full of stables, barns, famous stud farms and horse training facilities and racetracks etc. Many areas where fires are burning contain numerous stables throughout the hill country, and these are in mortal danger - eg ABC News videos and article from Dec.6, 2017.
This Dec. 7 2017 article from the San Diego Union-Tribune gives a glimpse into what is taking place in those horse facilities right now. There is video included in the article, not too long but quite telling. What adds to the story is that these are expensive English thoroughbreds worth tons of money.
San Louis Rey Downs near Bonsall in San Diego County LA Times reported as burning, with a number of horses, out of 450, presumed dead. CBS8 fuller report here, with many videos.
Long time ago my grandmother used to tell me stories about wars and violence of fires and floods, and she lived through 2 world wars, with her farm going up in smoke at least once, that  she said that  our docile stabled horses were extremely difficult to remove from the burning stables and barns, and often fought the handlers' efforts to take them outside, thus burning and suffocating to death. One way to remove them was to cover their heads with blankets and ty the blanked so they would not see anything and led them on the lead rope to safety.
a voice from the past:
US Cavalry (4th Cavalry Regiment) Lieutenant Johnathan Boniface in his work  The Cavalry Horse and his Pack(1903  ) stated - horses are easily frightened by fire and it is difficult to control them [..] the horse tries to remain in his burning stable simply because it is his home, wherein he has been accustomed to feeding and sleeping and being well cared for. The horses, in case of fire occurring at the stables, should be removed to a safe distance and securely tied up , for[..] if taken out and turned loose, are very apt to re-enter their stables and perish (p. 358-359).

 In the SDU-T and CBS you can see that the panicked horses are just flying around, with their Mexican and other handlers working hard to take them to some safety.

Good luck Southern California but it does not look good thus far.

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