Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Arizona wildfire burns horses as well as pasture and homes -- Donkey, horse miraculously saved

When fire ripped through the mountain pasture in southern Arizona, old roping horse Charlie panicked and charged straight into a sheet of flame.

"When fear takes over, sometimes they react. His reaction was to pull away and run right into the wildfire," said horse rescue worker Theresa Warrell.

The veteran workhorse, who suffered burns to his hoofs, underbelly, muzzle and eyes, is among hundreds of horses and other livestock rescued as the Monument Fire roared down out of the Huachuca Mountains and galloped across tinder-dry ranchland in this high desert valley.

As around 11,000 people were evacuated and scores of homes burned to the ground, volunteers worked around the clock to save horses, donkeys, cats, dogs and even hens exposed to the wind-whipped blaze that drove residents from their homes often with just with minutes to spare.

For animal experts, saving often panicked livestock presented an even greater challenge to rescuers.

"It's more of catastrophe, because it is very difficult to move your livestock at a moment's notice," said Dusty Prentice, a large animal veterinarian tending to Charlie's burns at the Horse'n Around Rescue Ranch and Foundation in Palominas.

"How do you get 20 or 30 horses or even two or three backyard horses that have not been in a trailer for quite some time ... evacuated within ten minutes?" she added.

Among other animals rescued was Rosie, a shaggy haired donkey reported missing as the fire bore down on homes in the wide open pasture, forcing owners to make a hurried retreat to safety. (read more)