The reporter looked around in horror at the chaos that the wildfire had created. Fire services were tackling the inferno, but they couldn’t be everywhere at once. As the reporter surveyed the destruction, she noticed something stuck in a crevice behind a building… and it was alive.
California has certainly seen its share of wildfires, but those that swept through the state in October 2017 dwarfed them all. They began in the north of the state as 250 different blazes, and then proceeded to grow in both their scope and their intensity.
The infernos not only spread across almost 250,000 acres, but also caused more than $9 billion of damage to property. Despite such destruction, though, the devastation was far from over. In fact, December 2017 brought another round of fires that were even worse than their predecessors.
Intense Santa Ana winds blew across California, and as a result a new round of wildfires ensued. The most severe blazes caused more than 300,000 acres of further damage and spread across the state’s southern regions. One of the affected areas was Sylmar, a neighborhood in the north of Los Angeles.
Tragically, by January 2018 more than 20 people had died as a result of this fresh wave of blazes, with other individuals also reported missing. In addition, the smoke and flames claimed a high number of animals’ lives as well.
While firefighters struggled to control the wildfires, journalists were on the scene to report on the latest developments. Fox 11 Los Angeles news reporter Gina Silva was amongst those covering the blazes. And while Silva was on the ground, she played an active part in the rescue effort.
As Silva filmed the chaos that was being caused by the Creek Fire in Sylmar, her attention was drawn to an unusual sight. Something was moving in a narrow gap behind an evacuated building. Whatever the creature was, it was big, and it was flailing around in panic.
On closer inspection, Silva realized that the struggling animal was an upturned horse. The poor thing had probably fallen into the gap as he fled from the fire. Yet despite his best efforts, the horse was trapped, and he couldn’t free himself.
And Silva couldn’t do anything to help the horse by herself, either. So, she decided to film a report about the incident, in the hope that others might come to the animal’s rescue. Both Silva and Fox 11 subsequently uploaded footage of the horse’s plight to Twitter.
“Firefighters are on scene, but they’re fighting this blaze, and … they’re [unable] to help this horse,” Silver explained. “We saw a lot of horses running aimlessly, obviously terrified. … And this poor horse obviously fell and tripped into this space.”
Silva also appealed to the owners of the building – the Hideaway Saloon – to open up the property and provide assistance. “[Hopefully] he won’t have to be airlifted, but he is in dire need of help,” Silva pleaded. And it wasn’t long before someone answered her call for help.
Assistance arrived on the scene just 20 minutes later, in fact. And not only was the rescue team comprised of several volunteers, but one of them was also a veterinarian. He was consequently able to sedate the horse with tranquilizers, so that the rescue operation could proceed.
Moreover, the fire department also did what they could to assist the horse. Meanwhile, Silva reported live on the rescue and uploaded the footage to Facebook. “L.A. County Fire … got a small crew here to rescue this animal,” she revealed.
With the help of the fire service, the rescue team managed to break down the wall that the horse had become trapped behind. After several hours of flailing helplessly upside down, the poor creature was finally free. However, his rescuers still had to get him to safety.
Together, they finally hauled the horse through the broken wall, and prepared him to be transported in a trailer. Unfortunately, even after such an incredible effort, the horse’s fate was still uncertain. If his legs were broken, then the rescue team’s actions would have been in vain.
Silva described how she spoke to the attending veterinarian off camera. “He’s not too sure if [the horse’s] life will be saved,” she revealed. All that they could do was get the horse to the trailer, and hope that they’d reached him in time.
And while the experts at the scene took care of the horse, the public following the story were waiting for information. Many people expressed their concern through various social media platforms. “I watched all morning until I had to leave for work,” one viewer wrote on Instagram. “So many tears.”
Another comment read, “I was thinking about this horse all day and was wondering what happen[ed]. I cried when I saw it [live] on TV.” Viewers didn’t have to wait long to find out, though, as Silva posted an update the very next day.
“The horse rescued from the Sylmar fire is doing well,” Silva wrote on Instagram. “His name is Kenny, and he’s 23 years old; today he’s doing better, and he’s eating.” Although Kenny was safe and sound, the update was still somewhat bittersweet.
“Sadly, 30 horses died in the Creek Fire,” Silva explained. “The family who owned the horses had to escape in a hurry, [and they] had no time to take the horses.” But at least Kenny had made it out alive. “Again, thank you to all the people who came to his rescue,” Silva added.