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October 21-22
2007 - Buckweed fire chars 38,000 acres, destroys 21 homes in Canyon Country and Agua Dulce [story]


Update 11:15 a.m.: The L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control notes that emergency sheltering sites are now open for pet owners to retrieve pets.

The tragedy of the deaths of 29 horses burned by the Creek Fire at a ranch in Sylmar has caused extensive public concern, and the L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control urges horse owners to have an evaculation plan.

The department shares in the grief over the loss of these beautiful horses, and all other animals affected by the Creek and Rye fires. We also wish to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts made by officers in response to this event and provide information regarding their response to this devastating situation.

The department received a request for assistance at this location at 8:45 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, December 5. Los Angeles County Animal Control Officers responded immediately and arrived at the location to find a barn burning, with some areas of the roof collapsing.

The officers could see and hear horses in distress and quickly retrieved two horses and a puppy.

After securing these animals in their trailer and vehicle, the officers returned to the burning barn to rescue an additional four horses before the flames blocked their entry. The officers placed these four horses in an arena on the property that was away from the fire.

Before they left for their own safety and that of the animals they had secured, the officers flagged down a fire truck to douse the barn with water and trailered the horses to Incident Command to relocate them and obtain additional assistance.

Additional officer teams returned to the property to find the barn still burning and entered the barn to rescue the horses. The stalls were padlocked, and the officers were forced to break the padlocks of 10 stalls to rescue the horses.

The barn became inaccessible due to the fire and the collapsing roof. The officers transported these horses to Incident command, returned some of the horses to their concerned owners, and the remaining horses were transported to the department’s emergency sheltering location at Pierce College.

A team of four officers returned to the ranch to rescue the horses in the arena. The officers were joined by owners with trailers. The horses in the arena were all retrieved by the owner and by the officers. Sadly, many horses locked in their stalls at the barn did not survive the fire.

Three of the horses transported to Pierce College were injured by the fire. The department immediately obtained emergency veterinary treatment for them, which is ongoing. One horse has been medically released. Sadly, despite all efforts, one was euthanized due to the extent of its injuries. A third horse will recover after several months of treatment. The Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation is paying for the medical treatment of this horse.

DACC officers are committed to saving the lives of animals and heroically struggled in this difficult situation to save as many horses as possible. The Departments extends its deepest condolences to the horse owners who lost their beloved equine friends.

This event serves as a tragic reminder for those who keep horses to develop actionable evacuation plans to reduce loss and injury. Horse stalls should never be padlocked or otherwise made inaccessible. Early evacuations are key to ensuring these tragedies do not occur.

The department also encourages horse owners to microchip their horses for identification during emergencies, and to have alternative housing sites established in advance in case of evacuations. The department and Foundation also thank the many generous donors who have contributed money to assist animals affected by the fires.

Donations may be made at www.lacountyanimals.org.

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45 Comments

  1. Brown says:

    I hope most people realize that our firemen and police officers, work very hard to save lives and structures. I have nothing but thanks for all these men and women. Living in SCV I have seen them in action in my own neighborhood. All I can do is extend a humble Thank you!

  2. What a tremendous effort, sadly the owned or housed more animals than they could manage in an emergency and the animals paid the price for it. 😔
    They are running free now ♡

  3. So tragic. 😢😢😭😭

  4. So sad 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  5. Tammy Lucas Tammy Lucas says:

    Thanks to the Animal Care for their efforts to save those trapped horses.

  6. 100% the ranch owners fault. 😡

  7. Don’t know how it would be possible to evacuate so many large animals in such little time. In the latest fire in San Diego horses were released and still over 24 perished. Maybe the allowable number of large animals per acre should
    be assessed and an evacuation plan submitted and approved for facilities housing a large number of large animals. In this situation there are multiple large fires and no doubt resources are spread thin.

    • They had them paddlocked in. Thank goodness animal control got the ones out that they did but they still had to break 10 locks. The rest were paddlocked in as well. Very sad and senseless. San Diego lost some because some of the horses refused to leave their stall but at least they had the option to run unlike the 29 horses who were stuck 😞

    • Jenna Hammond Roper It is sad. No padlocks in the San Diego fire as far as I know. Padlocked is not good for sure and I wonder what the reason was for it. Were people stealing horses?

    • I have no clue but no boarding facility that I have ever been to allowed you to put a padlock on your stall.

    • These fires are racing through neighborhoods with people alone having trouble getting themselves out. I believe on top of drought, wind, and population something has changed to our detriment as to the way we manage brush overgrowth. Growing up I remember controlled burns conducted on a pretty regular bases. You never heard of neighborhoods burned down or people and animals dying. This is something they don’t seem to do anymore and my guess is it is due to environmental regulations and wildlife preservation. That is fine and good but if this is the case, the state needs to step up their game and provide more super scoopers and other resources to aid the firefighters.

    • Jenna Hammond Roper when I first heard I did some checking into padlocking and
      as far as I could tell it is not illegal but they should probably change that. Some people generally looked at it as you would keep your dog locked up in your house. Some had mentioned a facility using padlocking when boarders didn’t pay their board to prevent them from stealing horses that were in Lien. it is really sad and too bad the other facility couldn’t block access to the barn 😢.

    • I watched a video from the facility in San Diego, workers there risked their lives running around letting the horses out of their stalls. Didn’t look like they were padlocked. At least they weren’t locked in the stables and given a chance to run.

    • Middle ranch and wildlife waystation are in the same area with far more animals and they evacuated all animals safely. This was not one person boarding a few horses. This was a family. The could have all gone in different directions and at least opened the stalls and let the horses run. They didn’t. They should have had an evacuation plan, especially with that many head of livestock. These people are being shown as victims but they are actually negligent murderers. There is a special place in hell for them. Karma is a b*tch and they should be worried. AC risked their lives going into the barns to save as many as they could and should be applauded whereas the owners just left. I hope they are prosecuted.

  8. UNACCEPTABLE!!!! I hope they are held accountable, padlocks WTF why?????

  9. Hailey Wells Hailey Wells says:

    Danyelle McKee animal control has investigated. They did not get a call till 8:45 AM that their were barns on fire! The family evacuated at 5 I believe and the fire started at 3:45 . Sounds like there could of been time to evacuate. Don’t mean to upset anyone but these were charro horses and many charro riders do not see there animals as part of the family or pets.

  10. DACC did all they could. The barn owner failed these beautiful animals/Shame on them 😔😡

  11. Casey Allen, more to the story of the lost horses. I am so sick to my stomach after reading this. :(

  12. Borly Green Borly Green says:

    I can’t even finish reading the article. Too upsetting to think of their distress cries.

  13. Did they have time to let them loose? I saw a ranch on the news where the owner just opened the stalls and let the horses run. They had a better chance I guess. Must have been 30 running out at full gait!!

  14. Pauline Harte says:

    Thanks to all who worked so hard to save these horses. You risked your own lives and you are all heroes.

  15. Perhaps it would of been best to release them and let them find safety on their own.

  16. Kelly Torres, such a sad story.

  17. If your going to own any animal it’s your responsibility to take care of them . You get them loaded or you damn well better make sure your ass is in there letting them run and have a chance. Not letting them burn . Your responsibility so yes this should be on there shoulders and there should be a law and fine if you can take care and make sure your animals are out when this happens every year . I know a ton of people with horses and believe me they are on it .

  18. Dan says:

    Very sad. This is enormously traumatic for the horse owners and especially the keepers.

  19. No one should have horses unless they have enough trailers to move them out. Or if there is a fire in the area all should be evacuated regardless if orders have been given. Fire fighters and/or police should not have to do this. There could be a registry (?) for people who are willing to help or could help so pet owners could call them right away? Anyway we always have fire none of these horses should have died, could have been prevented

  20. SCVTeam says:

    Thank God it wasn’t a human. Focus on more important issues rather than the deaths of animals. People these days…..what a bunch of pansies

  21. Thank you Animal control for risking your own lives to help save these horses and others!

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