California wildfires kill many animals, but these are usually wild creatures dwelling in the California forests.
However, these wildfires can also be deadly to family-owned animals. Tragically, 29 horses burned to death as a California ranch was hit by Creek Fire, one of the most dangerous active wildfires, had to be evacuated by its owners.
Ranch owners who were forced to abandon dozens of horses as wildfires swept their properties on Tuesday returned once the flames had passed to find almost all of the animals dead.
The Padilla Ranch was directly in the danger zone of Creek Fire, one of the largest out of five which have been ravaging the region.
Another two formed on Thursday as already overstretched firefighters battled the spreading flames.
At 3.43am on Tuesday, the ranch owners, who live up the hill on the dusty canyon road where it sits, awoke to flames and were forced to evacuate by firefighters who told them to leave without hesitation.
In the process, they had to leave behind the 60 horses they look after on behalf of their owners in the nearby stables. When they returned, they found 29 had died.
Their bleak return to the site and the devastating discovery of the animals’ carcasses were captured in harrowing photographs on Wednesday.
Ranch owner Patricia Padilla said she was reluctant to leave the animals but had no choice because her own life was in risk.
Ranch owner Patricia Padilla and her family were warned early in the morning by firefighters to evacuate the area immediately, as the fires had already spread too far into their property. Padilla told the LA Times “All I could think about was the horses, the horses, the horses.” Unfortunately, there was no time to save all of the animals.
Although 29 horses burned to death in the tragic event, some were rescued by people nearby. Oscar Martinez, who housed his horse at Rancho Padilla, worried that his horse would be a casualty of the fire. However, a friend was able to rescue his horse before the flames overtook the area.
It felt like you were in the middle of hell with everything burning around you
And [the firefighters] were like, “Get out, get out, get out.” The structures can get rebuilt, but the lives of the horses can’t. … That’s my biggest heartbreak,’ she told The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.
Some of the horse’s owners tried to save them when they realized they were in danger.
They include Oscar Martinez who arrived at the ranch at 5am on Tuesday to find it entirely on fire. His horse was saved by a friend who was nearby and was able to get it out in time.
Virginia Padilla, another of the sisters who runs the ranch, said it was not the first time they had been at risk.
We’ve always had fires, and it’s always been one of those things like, “We’ll be OK,”. I guess it was just… we weren’t.
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