In the heat of California’s dreaded wildfire season, no less than six fires have sent residents fleeing through the northern and southern regions of the state. The list of civilians affected by the Kincade, Maria, Easy, Getty, 46 and Hillside Fires includes equestrians, who took to social media to share stories and rally for aid.
“I think it’s 16 years to the day since we last had to evacuate,” said Jim Hagman, CEO and founder of the Elvenstar show barn in Moorpark, California. Moorpark is affected by the Easy Fire, which has burned nearly 2,000 acres.
“We’re not in the highest danger area, but you have scrap brush,” said Hagman. “And now it’s rural in southern California, so you have conditions that, when you get a fire going, they travel fast.”
On the morning of Oct. 30, Hagman received a call from a distressed neighbor who alerted him to a firewall that was inching toward Elvenstar, home to 125 horses.
“When you’re in a situation like this, things get messed up,” said Hagman, who was at the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky, when he got the call. “Our crew is trained to the drill; they know where to go and what to do and what the system is.
“If you’re in southern and northern California, you really have to understand what your emergency plan is,” Hagman added. “The neighbors called me, but our crew already knew and were on it and did everything they needed to do.”
The Elvenstar team evacuated all the horses. Fortunately, the fire missed the facility after it split into two, leaving the property unscathed.
“One horse had to have a few stitches on its nose; other than that, everybody’s perfectly fine,” said Hagman. “The stable in front of us, which is a western boarding barn, had to turn their horses loose, so that was a bit more drama. I don’t know what happened as far as their horses, but that was very upsetting to hear on the news that there were horses on the highway.”