UPDATE 12/8 10:34am PST: We have added a new and verified GoFundMe page for direct support for San Luis Rey Training Facility. Please see below for details.
Wildfires are annihilating homes, farms, wildlife and raw vegetation in Southern California as numerous separate fires start up and take off in the hot Santa Ana winds of late fall. Hundreds of thousands of acres are burning, and we have a full report with updates available here.
Additional news came to us last night that the San Luis Rey Training Center near San Diego burned late Thursday afternoon, and you can see the somewhat disturbing video on follow-up on that event at our sister-site, Horse Nation.
One video you may have missed amidst this tragedy is this incredible footage from a barn in Sunland, California where a cameraman and reporter were covering the approaching fire as a barn evacuated, and as the winds turned and things became serious, the news team stops reporting and starts grabbing horses out of pens to get them out.
A reporter interrupted a live broadcast to help rescue horses at a ranch that was going up in flames
Posted by The Weather Channel on Thursday, December 7, 2017
From the absolutely heroic and heartbreaking actions of the grooms and workers at San Luis Rey to the news offices covering the fires to the several hundred volunteers who showed up at Del Mar racetrack Thursday night to help get horses settled and safe, the people who love and work for this sport showed who they really are the past 24 hours.
For those of us far away, there is still plenty you can do to help:
Del Mar Fairgrounds is now in need of supplies — it’s serving as the evacuation center not just for San Luis Rey Downs but for multiple horse owners and facilities in the evacuation area. Particular needs include pitchforks and rakes, buckets, bedding and feed. Del Mar has stated it currently has enough volunteers to help care for horses, watch for signs of colic and identify tattoos and markings on the Thoroughbreds evacuated from San Luis Rey.
Ali Hamman of South Coast Sport Horses LLC is organizing equipment donations, including halters, leads, wraps and barn supplies. Contact via Facebook with equipment donations.
Thoroughbred Charities of America is prepared to assist San Luis Rey Downs horses, once the immediate crisis starts to resolve and needs are assessed. TCA aided the race horses of Puerto Rico after two hurricanes devastated the island earlier this year. Visit TCA’s website to make a cash donation.
USEF’s Disaster Relief Fund is armed and ready to help fellow equestrians in need. They were instrumental in the hurricane and flooding in the south earlier this year, and are deploying in Southern CA now.
UPDATE: PR Manager for San Luis Rey Alexis Garske has posted a GoFundMe page link to raise direct support for the horses who survived the fire at the training facility. You can visit that page here for more information and to make a donation.
For networking and information about evacuations, visit the Southern California Equine Emergency Evacuation Facebook group. More information about disaster preparedness and evacuation plans can be found here.
Use caution when donating to crowdfunding sites. At this time we do not know of any “official” fundraisers via crowdfunding sites and we encourage readers interested in helping to donate to one of the above organizations.
We will continue to update you on the fires throughout the day and into next week.
Kristen Kovatch contributed to this story.