Friday, June 20, 2008

Fire Plans

I went over our fire evacuation plan with Gayle last night because it just feels like a firestorm is coming. Last night the winds were pretty strong and combined with the dry heat, we've got a disaster in the making.

The FEC horses go to Moorpark or Hansen Dam if there's a problem in Chatsworth--depending on where a fire is. Moorpark got burned out pretty badly two years ago. My girlfriend relayed the problems of getting her giant alpha Holsteiner mare evacuated. The last big fire along the ridge of hills in Chatsworth was three years ago. Where Ace is was in no danger of fire, but the smoke was bad there. Last year, the smoke from the fire in Malibu was pretty bad in the West Valley where I had him then.

When Ace was at Pierce, fire was not a worry because Pierce is an evacuation center for horses and other livestock in emergencies. Several times, we were threatened that they were going to put evacuated horses in either the inside or outside stalls where our horses resided. Can you imagine the stupidity of doing that with horses whose immunization and health histories aren't known? Fortunately, we were able to stop that from happening, but I noticed during the evacuation last year, the indoor/outdoor stalls became two holding pens and horses were in all of them. I don't want Ace brought to Pierce during an evacuation unless I can get one of my friends living in Melody Acres to let me walk him over there!

The fire evacuations are enlightening. You realize how much better care you take of your horses than most people do. Several years ago, people brought in a small herd of Arabians, including a 30+ year old stallion. They were all in pitiful state, but him especially. It looked like he hadn't been groomed in years, and his feet desperately needed trimming. His teeth must have needed floating because he was nothing but skin and bones. Animal control should have confiscated all six of the horses from these owners. There was a sweet young filly I could have been convinced to adopt. Unfortunately, they were all sent home with their owner.

Ace trailer loads pretty well. He does need a few minutes to consider the box, but he stands well when he gets in and will eat any treats left for him. He's always pretty anxious to get out, however. He'll load a step-up or a ramp, thanks to a lot of work by Rod Bergen. Around here, everyone needs to make sure their horses load with little hesitation. Emergency evacuation teams will leave horses behind when there's no time to waste.

The dry hills of the California summer are something that's still a disconnect to me. I grew up in the western foothills of the Catskills. I often miss the green. Flooding has been a problem in my home town several times over the past few years, but I can't remember a fire that engulfed even an acre of land when I was growing up there. Too wet.


Grey Horse Matters said...

A fire plus horses is a scary scenario. I'm glad to hear that there is a plan in place just in case. It's good Ace loads fairly easily, we wouldn't want him left behind. I can't believe it when the authorities(whoever they are) give back abused/neglected animals to their owners. I guess no one wants to be bothered with paperwork or actually doing something to make an animals life better. There is a place for people like them and it's not a good place. I'll keep my fingers crossed for rain for your area.

M. C. Valada said...

Thanks for your good thoughts. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see more than a few drops between now and November. We occasionally see a little rain in the summer--I remember it was raining the day we drove to Comicon when people were killed at the Farmer's Market in Santa Monica about 5 years ago.