Thursday, June 26, 2008

California Wildfires

A few days ago there were close to 850 fires burning mainly in Northern California and most were ignited by lightning. Nevada and Oregon sent in their resources to help, but 700 fires are still burning. All the smoke drifted over the Sierra and into Northern Nevada. The air quality has been hazardous, so everyone is being told to stay indoors and close their windows.

I worry about all the animals out there who have to breathe it in. Locking my horses in their stalls can't help all that much other than preventing them from running around and taking deeper breaths. I miss being able to exercise my horses on my lunch break and after work.

My daughter and I stopped at a usually crowded, hectic shopping mall on the way home from the office one day, and the parking lot was almost deserted. Driving through that gloom felt like driving through a war zone. Visibility on the highway was less than a mile and little pieces of debris, possibly ash, kept hitting our windshield.

All of this makes me think what I would do if a fire ravaged my neighborhood. I own three horses and have a two-horse trailer. My neighbor has anywhere between 6 to 8 horses on her property at any given time and has a three-horse trailer. Would we have to make multiple trips between our homes and the safe zone, borrow someone else's trailers, trot some of our horses down the road while holding lead ropes in the truck, or find people to ride our horses out? Obviously, riding the horses out in a crisis situation where you probably have people racing out of the area in thick smoke and a lot of horns honking is not a good idea.

I have always felt that my home was safe because we are two plateaus above the flood plane and several miles from the foothills where the fires and mudslides occur, but if fires that are hundreds of miles away can impact us like this, I think anything can happen. We could have an earthquake that could trigger fires. We could get hit by a tornado that could start fires. Tornadoes are rare around here, but I've seen them. One time when I was sitting in the bleachers watching my daughter play softball, I saw a mean looking cloud pass over and watched four tornadoes spawn from it just miles from the park. Soon ambulances and fire trucks raced off in that direction. Most people seemed to be so enthralled with the game that they were oblivious to the twisters. I watched the twisters closely to make sure they weren't headed our way. They eventually dissipated.

What are your plans to rescue your horses if disaster strikes?


projectjasper said...

It's smoggy and (cough)(cough) smoky here in Marin county - yuck! I think the ranch where I board my horse has some sort of plan for disaster. But I definitely do need to think about getting a trailer for him. He's gotten too big for the qh sized ones at the ranch!

ell said...

The only big weather we have to worry about in Maine really is the nor'Easter storm in the winter (big wind , cold blowing snow)My horses are out with run-ins and I just have to blanket well and make sure they have a wind block and wait it out. I have to watch for rising snow levels that may allow them to walk over the fence and escape. That's it--some lightning in summer--but nothing scary like you have to deal with. I simply can't image. I saw pictures last summer of the fires and I don't want to know what that is like. I read that some wrote phone #s on their horses and just turned them out free to escape on their own.I simply cringe and quiver to imagine. Thought and prayers are with you!

Victoria Cummings said...

I used to live in San Diego, so I know how you are feeling right now. Last fall, during the fires in SD, so many of my friends and their horses got stuck in really scary situations. It's really important to figure out a way to get your horses to safety. One thing that I know for sure is that evacuating them sooner is better than waiting to see what will happen, especially if you have to make two trips to get them all out. I hope that you all stay safe and the fires die down soon.

Katee said...

Make a plan. You will feel so much better. Talk to your neighbor and figure out what you'd do in case of emergency. You have to know how you're going to evacuate, what you're going to evacuate, and where you are going to evacuate to.

No emergency plan ever goes entirely as you think it will, but having a plan in place helps keep the panic at bay!

Molly said...

I'm so sorry. I hope the fires are contained very soon. All my friends are complaining about the smoke from Marin County to Big Sur. Awful.

Twinville said...

So sorry about the choking smoke. I remember seeing somewhere during war photos there were horse wearing gas masks. It's too bad they don't make something similar for horses on a less technical scale. Maybe something more like what they wear in Asia for pollution?

As you know we had some fire worries here in NM and when we drove south of here the air was similar, and even with our car windows shut and the air quality buton set we were still hacking and gagging from the smoke.
We, too felt worry for the people and animals that had to deal with that 24/7 for days.

It's a good thing you are thinking of a game plan for emergencies.

I've often thought of the same thing, too. My neighbor has 3 horses and I only have one, so between the two of us and our 2 horse trailers we can get the horses out safely.

But we also have llamas, goats, sheep and chickens. Not to mention a dog and cats and some guinea pigs. It would be tough to leave anyone behind.

If I drive and my hubby drives, though, we could get the llamas in his truck, along with some goats and sheep. I could fit the dog, cats, guinea pigs, and our favorite chickens into my van.
I can also tow our camper, so at least we'll have a place to stay and still keep our animals with us.

(Reminder to self: purchase more lead ropes and tie outs and halters for all our critters)

Something that is also important is food/hay/meds. It's doubtful where we'd be going there would be free bales of hay for us, as in an emergency, much needed items tend to be scarce.
And then there is the other issue...water.

We'll all hope that animal rescue organizations are there to help out. Human rescue groups' first priority is providing for humans, so it's a very good idea to be as prepared as possible.

Flying Lily said...

I often have dreams or nightmares in which I go get my horses and take off in some kind of disaster scenario - I am usually wishing I had taught them to pony before the end of the world started happening around our ears. I hope the smoke clears off - what a real-life nightmare they are living through out there.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

These are all interesting comments. Sometimes the comments are more educational than my posts. Today was much clearer and the kids were happy to get outside.

lily - I once had a nightmare in which my horses came running toward me with a wildfire hot on their heels. The horses were smoking and I couldn't get the gate open to let them out. That's one nightmare I'll never forget.