A Fire Runs Through It.
(Taken on my Apple iphone, straight from phone cam, no computer enhancement, my Nikon D50 is broken. Location is Artesian Road in Rancho Santa fe; Highest position on explore was #2; this photo was also picked up by the front page of yahoo news which resulted in the 80,000 views)
We saw these horses standing here right in the middle of all the smoke and fires smoldering and the aftermath of the main fire that ran through here. I almost couldn't believe that about 25 horses were standing here and their fences had all melted or burned away.
Their owners had escaped but they were unable to evacuate the horses. The horse evacuation area at the Del Mar race track was already full with 1800+ horses, so they just left them in this large open space area which was the safest thing for the horses.
A neighbor had called the horse ranch owner Debbie, and told her that the worst of the fires had already passed, so they returned and I offered to help round up their horses.
It was extremely smokey, hot, windy. I could feel the radiant heat from glowing embers everywhere, there were flames all around and lots of smoke. All the surrounding hillsides had flames advancing. I am not much of a horse person but I figured I could handle it so i started grabbing the horses by the bridle, one or two at a time and leading them back to the safety of the barn, soon I got ahold of some lead ropes to clip to the horses which helped.
I was worried the the horses might freak because of all the surrounding flames and glowing embers but they seemed follow my lead ok. I wanted so bad to get better photos but I also wanted to help these people and horses so I had to make do with the situation.
After we got all the horses to the safety of the barn, we picked up shovels and started shoveling dirt on all the various burning flames and embers flying all around towards the barn. I didn't know these people or barely what I was doing but they were thankful for the extra help, so I kept working as long as I could.
It was just two ladies there to safeguard about 40 horses, they wanted one of us to stay but we couldn't. Getting in and out of this area was so difficult. The smoke was so thick I could barely breathe or see.
I told the ladies I would come back and I asked them what they needed, they said water and buckets to give water to the horses, (their water was not flowing). I was afraid the cops would not let me return to the area if I left, then I found a working hose and many buckets at a neighbors ranch. So I filled a bunch of buckets with water, put them in my jeep and returned back to the horses and ladies. They said I was like an angel and thanked me for the help.
There were a number of cops around questioning my movements but I had to just confidently act my part, like I belonged there, if I was to get through and continue to help these horses and ladies. At one point I asked why there were so many cops suddenly out on the street and he said to protect homes from the looters who were out doing their thing.
The neighbor from where I borrowed the water and buckets was also frantic and asking for help. One of her hoses had sprung a major leak and she asked if I could do something about that. I said I had duct tape in my jeep that could probably fix it. So with my flashlight I searched for and found the duct tape and I wrapped it in tight layers across the hose.
Some cops came down the long driveway and were announcing that we had to leave because of the mandatory evacuation. The lady told me they could go to hell because her life was tied up in this multi-million $$ home / horse ranch property, she had just acquired the whole thing in her recent divorce, and there was no way she was going to leave. So she asked me to drive down the hill to avoid the cops and to check on a major finger of the fire advancing up the hill in her direction.
When we got down the hill we could see huge flames and widespread fire working its way up the canyon. There were people there with hoses fighting the fire back from their home also. They wanted to know if there were more threatening flames on the other side of the hill where we had come from. I told them that the worst of it was right where they were.
All I can say is that this was the most intense part of this entire firestorm for me, helping to save these horses and the ranches. I was especially glad I could do something worthwhile to help, rather than just look around and take photos.
This photo was picked up by Yahoo News, so the views are skyrocketing. Also it is moving up
in Explore. It's from my iphone cam and I'm thrilled because this is the proof I was looking for to help people understand (including me) it is the photographer, not the camera that counts.