This afternoon I had an appointment with the vet to see our newest horse. It was about 100 degrees by the time she left, and I was looking forward to a cold shower and maybe- possibly- even a nap.
Then I got a text that there was a fire.
And I looked up.
And there was a fire.
It was a large fire.
And it was just over the ridge.
Our evacuation plan is to get as many trailers to the ranch as possible so we have to make as few trips as possible- and barring that, walk the horses over to O’Neill park where other trailers will be staged. Thanks in no small part to the experience of Debbie Kelly and ETI, the evacuation of the canyon in the past has gone relatively smoothly.
That being said, when do we evacuate? I saw the large plume of smoke and let our neighbors know so they could evacuate if necessary- and then waited to see if the planes and helicoptors could put the fire out. Unfortunately, because of where it was located- right on the border of OC and Riverside, there were juristicational issues, and finally the USFS took over the fire. The fire grew exponentially, however, and it really looked like Armageddon, with the smoke turning orange and the black smoke slowly taking over the sky. Actually, it kind of looked like Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings.
The issue we have when evacuating the ranch is that some of our horses don’t do well when their routine is changed up. While I work on making sure everyone can load into a trailer, it doesn’t mean that the horse won’t experience stress when being put into a new stall, surrounded by other horses, and fed on a different schedule. Moving 14 horses is not a simple feat, either- it requires multiple trips, and there is no guarantee that the road will be open when we come back for another trip. Still- if you have to evacuate, you have to evacuate.
I hooked up our truck and trailer, and my SUV and our other trailer, and waited. All signs pointed toward the fire moving east, away from us- but I wanted to be prepared to leave until I was certain that was the case. The temperature rose to about 115 degrees. The smoke began to drift our way, and small bits of ash began to rain down on the ranch. It did not look good.
On the positive side, my phone did not stop ringing or pinging for the entire afternoon. We were given routine updates by those who talked directly with the firefighters, those who were watching from better vantage points, and those who were listening to the scanners. So many people called or texted, offering to help us if we needed to evacuate. Our board member Kelley organized enough trailers in OPA to pretty much take almost every horse out of Trabuco Canyon in two trips if necessary! We were offered places to stay by those people who have adopted horses from us, from volunteers, friends, strangers, and even the president of Red Bucket Equine Rescue called and offered to house our horses if necessary. It really does show how tight of a community we are, and how so many people do have a kind heart and will do whatever they can to help those in need.
Around 3:30pm, the wind shifted, and we were concerned that the fire was going to drift back our way, but thankfully for us, it continued to move east. The firefighters laid down a barrier of retardant on the OC side of the fire, and the fire continued to burn towards Riverside. It destroyed many of the cabins in Holy Jim, and two hikers had to be airlifted out of the canyon. Two firefighters were injured, but so far no other structures have been destroyed and there has been no loss of life.
As of right now, the fire is 0% contained, and has reached a devastating 4,000 acres. It is still moving towards Riverside and we hope that the firefighters will be able to stop it before it threatens any other community.
Many thanks to our hard working firefighters, to all of those who offered their services to help us, and to those who are still monitoring the fire. We appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to keeping us safe!