30 horses killed as wildfires consume 83,000 acres near LA

By Sara Shayanian and Danielle Haynes  |  Updated Dec. 6, 2017 at 7:27 PM
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Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A fast-moving blaze killed nearly 30 horses at a ranch in Sylmar as five wildfires burned through more than 83,000 acres in Southern California on Wednesday.

The charred remains of the horses were found in their stalls at Rancho Padilla. The Los Angeles County Fire Department awoke the Padilla family at around 4 a.m., ordering them to evacuate immediately.

The Creek Fire bore down on the family ranch, leaving them little time to evacuate.

"All I could think about was the horses, the horses, the horses. And they were like, 'Get out, get out, get out,'" Patricia Padilla told the Los Angeles Times. "The structures can get rebuilt, but the lives of the horses can't. ... That's my biggest heartbreak."

She told KNSD-TV in San Diego she expected all the horses to die, but later saw a few of her horses at a horse shelter at Pierce College.

As of a 3:27 p.m. update from California Fire, the Creek Fire has consumed 11,377 acres since it began Tuesday in Los Angeles County with zero percent containment. Seven firefighters sustained non-life-threatening injuries while battling the blaze.

More than 150,000 people in Los Angeles were ordered to evacuate in areas affected by the Creek Fire, Rye Fire and Skirball Fire.

On Wednesday, several homes in Los Angeles' Bel-Air area were burning as the Skirball Fire caused the closure of the 405 Freeway. As of 3 p.m., the fire burned 50 acres with zero containment.

The Rye Fire, located along Rye Canyon Loop and West Valencia, consumed 7,000 acres with 5 percent containment as of 7:30 a.m.

"It's been years since anything here has burned at all," Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Cody Weireter said. "You've got heavy, heavy brush, you've got the dryness -- obviously, we haven't had any rain at all. A lot of the fire is topography-driven, which already becomes dangerous. The wind is going to increase that twofold."

On Tuesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the Thomas Fire, which charred 65,000 acres in Ventura County and killed one firefighter. The blaze was zero percent contained as of 3:30 p.m.

Officials said the flames have destroyed nearly 200 homes.

Late Tuesday it had reached Solimar Beach near the Pacific Ocean.

"This fire is very dangerous and spreading rapidly, but we'll continue to attack it with all we've got," Brown said. "It's critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so."

The strong winds are expected to remain constant through Thursday, peaking at night, before they begin to subside Friday.

The 50 mph winds not only helped spread the fire but they also grounded air tankers. Wind gusts blasting Los Angeles-area hilltops reached nearly 70 mph, officials said. More than 1,100 firefighters are working to extinguish the blaze.

In the past few years, rain has come before the Santa Ana winds. This year, however, none has fallen in three months -- making firefighters' work even more challenging.

Some say the destructive blaze is unlike anything they have seen before.

"We've lived in Ventura for 19 years," resident Mike Patterson said. "We've had a couple fires, but nothing like this."

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