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Southern California CMK Heritage News

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Archives: Special Internet Edition ~ Firestorm 2003
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Wildfires in Southern California

Your SoCal CMK Heritage Friends Report...

Red Bullet   Update from Melissa Paul, Curator, W.K.Kellogg Arabian Horse Library. Friday morning, November 14, 2003

Hi All,

You may be wondering why I haven't been posting--haven't been online. My horses are all home (3 came on Saturday afternoon and evening and 1 on Monday morning). However, things weren't right. One mare, my *Nariadni daughter, was a bit "off" on Sunday afternoon. Checked on her at 10 Sunday night and she looked droopy. Vet was supposed to come after they were all home, and so he was going to come on Tuesday. But on Monday Pavlovaa was definitely sick, and I told him he needed to come NOW! She had a temperature of 104.5 and was given Banamine and prescribed Bute and antibiotics. She also has some burns around 3 of her hooves that I am treating. All seem to be healing and aren't painful. The other (Precious Karab) mare has burns near 2 of her hooves, but they aren't bad. I'm washing, dressing, and wrapping their legs every day. Also, Precious has had swelling in her eyes off and on. She's getting an antibiotic/steroid eye ointment. More details later.

Thanks again to all who have sent assistance. It has helped A LOT!


Red Bullet   Update from Melissa Paul, Curator, W.K.Kellogg Arabian Horse Library. Wednesday evening, November 5, 2003

Hi All,

This is just a brief update, since as usual lately I'm exhausted. Had to go in to work yesterday and today due to the Arabian Advisory Committee meeting on campus, but they didn't manage to stop by and see the Library. So, I could have been doing fire clean-up and repair. Except that maybe a couple days off from the heavy work might have done me some good. Went to the Advisory Committee dinner this evening with the staff at the Arabian Horse Center, committee members, and the Kellogg Foundation rep at the Restaurant at the Kellogg Ranch. Was delicious and I didn't have to cook when I got home (been so tired all I want to do is throw a potato in the microwave). May post info about what I heard regarding the meeting once I remember what they told me.

Lots of work done over the past weekend. Jim Eagleson and Janet Stevenson and some other friends dropped by to help out. I think they did most of the work, while I watched in some sort of braindead fog. Jim was back on Sunday and did an incredible amount of back-breaking work.

Bought a new wheelbarrow/garden cart at Orchard Supply Hardware on Sunday. This one is supposed to hold 200lbs. Believe me we put it to the test hauling out loads of (now) wet ashes. Bought new wheels to replace the melted ones on the old utility cart (which doesn't like holding hundreds of pounds of wet ashes), new padlocks for the corrals, new hoses, and assorted other supplies also at OSH.

Monday started out with me hauling loads of ashes out of the mares' corral (the one with the most damage), so that they can come home first (don't want one of the stallions to come first and be alone before the others arrive). Then it began to rain, something for which I wasn't prepared. So, I stopped and ran numerous errands. Got my cell phone with the broken antenna (that wouldn't work during the fire--now THAT is frightening) replaced (as in activated) with one I got off Ebay for $23 including delivery (one can't be too frugal!). Went to my vet's house in Chino to pick up tranquilizer for the one stallion who is hot and spooky (and who had never been in a trailer until the fire), so that he can remain calm for the return trip. My vet came rushing up the morning JUST following the fire and gave a big dose of Dormosedan (yeah that stuff the western guys use to, uh, cheat) to poor Beyonnet who had totally checked out by then. The stall he was standing in had to be doused to stop it smoking right before he got his injection. We had to get him out in a hurry as the fire department wasn't sure if the fire would come back.

The hauling wasn't going very fast on Sunday, and Jim E. suggested I find a mini tractor of some kind to scoop the ashes up and haul them out. After the rain began on Monday, I decided to call around the local equipment rental places looking for a garden tractor small enough to fit through the pipe corrals gates (48" wide--I know, I measured!). After going to look, I found one that fits the bill--it's a Bobcat with a scoop bucket in front. One walks behind it and it operates with levers. It is a diesel (with glow plugs--as you may guess, I've never driven a diesel anything). Practiced in the rental yard parking lot, and it seemed easy enough. THEY said I could do it. We shall see.*g* Then went to MD Enterprises, the stall manufacturer, to check out prices on a replacement barn (2 stall). Well, that is definitely out! Wow are barns expensive these days. I am thinking of looking for a used portable metal one that no one wants anymore and trying to get it moved. That is if I qualify for any of the state or federal grants (and that does NOT look promising at the moment). Will have to post of my experiences at the disaster headquarters (the Hughes Center in Claremont) last Friday. All 5+ hours of it (complete with scads of reporters and 2 governors).

Monday when I got home I found 4 brand new halters had arrived in the mail. I also found some very much appreciated checks had arrived too. Thank you, thank you I am really grateful (and I'll be writing to each one of you privately too)!

Tomorrow the little Bobcat thing will be delivered, and I have it for the whole day. Hope I don't mow down any of the pipe corrals. Anybody in the area who has any tractor-driving experience feel free to stop by.

I hope to bring the horses home on Saturday. Jim E. has generously brought his trailer. Precious Karab (29), Pavlovaa (21), and Beyonnet (21) are all still in Chino at Prado Equestrian Center. Auromas (aka Jekyll, 25) is at San Dimas Equestrian Center in San Dimas.

Must fall into bed now so I can be up early. And I *intended* to be


Red Bullet   Help is Needed at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Please go to our Aid and Resources Page for more information on how you can help. Posted: October 31, 2003.

Red Bullet   Help Needed. Thursday, October 30, 2003.  From Melissa Paul, Curator, W.K.Kellogg Arabian Horse Library:

"I hardly know where to begin, but I am in need of help of all kinds.

There is an incredible amount of ash, burned, and dead materials in the horse corrals, and I need assistance in clearing it out. One of the 24 foot pipe corral sections was taken down to get the mares out (it was burning by the gate so that route couldn't be used). I can't lift it by myself to put the fence back together. Plus my ratchet wrench set was in the barn. I think it was steel, so probably is intact, the only problem is finding it in the rubble.

Pitchforks are needed, but mine burned. Pruning sheers too, but those are gone. I think the ash should be wet down but all my long hoses, and most of my short ones melted. Horses need to come back soon because of the board bill for one thing. They are also old and are better in an environment they know, as soon as it is safe. FYI, the one mare is 29 and the other is 21. My stallions are 21 and 25. The owner of one facility wants my one stallion she has to come back quickly since people who moved their horses from her stable because of fear of the approaching fire are bringing their horses back, so space is an issue.

Water came back on today, and I've got it back running to the tanks in some of the corrals. None of the gold fish in the tanks died, amazingly! These are oh, I don't know, 100 to 150 gallons each. Need to get them cleaned somewhat, although they don't look bad. It's hoses I really need. Two of about 25 feet and one that is a good 150 feet.

Today it started to rain so I had to run off to OSH and grab a tarp. Naturally I bought one too big for the amount of hay I have now, but I was in a big hurry. It's possible there was one in the dressing room of the ANCIENT horse trailer, but the lock appears to be frozen, and I can't get in. One guess as to where my can of WD40 was.

I had 3 wheelbarrows. One is more of a utility cart and luckily it has all metal handles. Guess not aluminum since it didn't melt inside the barn. It's wheels are burned off to the rims and are a non-standard size. If I can find replacement wheels, this cart can be used again, it's just blackened otherwise. My others fared worse. The big one had wood handles which are now stumps. The wheel is gone. Salvaging anything from it is doubtful. The small wheelbarrow had rubber over metal handles. The rubber is gone. The solid rubber wheel is about 1/2 melted off.

The barn is not covered.:( I called the insurance company the other day and they said no. When I switched companies several years ago, I didn't check that all the riders were included. The barn wasn't. It is possible I may get some help from FEMA or a state or local source. Finding that out is going to take time though, and I have to get my horses settled first.

Some nice person is sending me 4 halters and lead ropes in the mail, so I am well-covered in that area. I found one old bucket in the back of the horse trailer. I've been using it to put out hot spots--found another smoldering stump today and doused it. You can't imagine the amount of devastation and all the work that needs to be done. All the buckets I used for grain and stuff where lost in the barn, they were plastic.:( The rubber feed tubs vanished without a trace somewhere in the ash.

That's a minimal description of the current situation. What I need are hands and able bodies if anyone would like to come and help. If you have a ratchet wrench set all the better! Wear a mask and bring work gloves and gardening/barn tools. The corrals are behind 4710 Glen Way in Claremont. That is north of Baseline and between Towne and Mountain. I will be going up again later today and expect to be working all day tomorrow and over the weekend. Anybody who can come by and help would be much appreciated.

One of my ex student assistants (she's graduated and is now a teacher) came by last night with her husband. They gave me a much needed check that will cover the load of hay I just got and part of the one vet bill so far. I haven't gotten the board and hauling bills yet, but I know my finances will not stretch that far, and I am very worried. I really don't like to ask for financial help, but I don't have other options left."

Melissa Paul
1230 Cambridge Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711

Red Bullet   From Jim Eagleson. Tuesday Evening, October 28, 2003

"I got in touch with Howard and all is fine. He's had great difficulty calling out but all seems OK now." (What Great News! Howard Patton is very close to the Cedar Fire area and phone and power lines had been down and out.)

Red Bullet   Melissa's Update and Some More Details. Tuesday Morning, October 28, 2003

"When I went to bed Saturday night the Grand Prix Fire was still miles away, but it didn't stay that way. These fires are not behaving as ones in previous years. They are extremely fast and unpredictable.

My horses were at the base of Claraboya in Claremont, and many houses in Claraboya burned. I live about two miles south of the horses. I got the call, I'm not sure, but around 3am Saturday night/Sunday morning to come IMMEDIATELY. The fire came through Claraboya and wrapped around Claraboya, at first coming from the east and soon from the west. My only roads in are on the east and west. I was nearly trapped, only escaped by driving through a wall of fire. Couldn't get my horses out in time, the trailers did not arrive before I had to leave. But by some miracle they survived. Neighbors helped and multiple people with trailers pitched in once they were led down the street. For over 6 hours I thought they were dead. My horses are still scattered, with 3 in Chino and 1 in San Dimas. Janet S.[Stevenson], whose house and barn is just over the hill to the west, got her horses out by leading and got them to Cal Poly where I work. Many of the local facilities were full with evacuated horses.

The pipe corrals and all the shelters survived the fire, although parts of the ground were still very hot and smoking as of last night. My barn literally melted in place. All my hay burned. Supplies and equipment are under the melted debris of the feedroom stall. Presumed lost. No water on the property yet, hope to have it by the weekend. As soon as there is water, my horses will return. Hay delivery is Wednesday. They are going to put pallets down on the charred ground to keep the hay out of the ashes.

Am still exhausted and not sleeping too well."

Red Bullet  From Mary Jane Parkinson, author of The Kellogg Arabian Ranch. (East San Diego area) Tuesday Morning, October 28, 2003  

"Yes, [we are] okay. Recommended, not mandatory, evacuation on Sunday evening. Packed up all small four-legged creatures and went to Nancy's house. Came home about midnight. The air is absolutely rotten, no signs of improving really. No schools in session here yesterday or today. Friends in Jamul had fire one-eighth mile from their house. Saved by a change of wind. The local forecasters say the Santa Ana is over, but we're all still nervous around here. My brother and sister-in law lived (he died about two years ago) in Alpine, and Jan called me yesterday to say the house burned, along with the shop where my brother designed and created cars. A lot of family items lost there, I'm afraid. This is far worse than 1970 fires which we all still vividly remember. Kind and caring thoughts to all involved."

Red Bullet  From Marci de la Torre. Tuesday Morning, October 28, 2003. (Updating her post from yesterday)

"As of this morning (10/28) the news is reporting that the Mountain Fire (Temecula Fire) is 55% contained, 10,000 acres burned, 15 structures burned. This fire did its biggest damage in the Sage/Tucalota Valley area. A number of horses have died. They couldn't get them out in time. DLR ranch is one of the evacuation centers. A number of horses have arrived there, burned. There have been euthanasias as well, but I do not know the specifics."

Red Bullet  From Sidney Rae Fox. Tuesday Morning, October 28, 2003. (Updating her post from yesterday)

"God Bless all who have lost or not lost but had to survive this frightening adventure. I am happy to read on the SoCal CMK pages all have found their animals or could place them in safe shelters."

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Red Bullet  From Nicole Kinsey. Monday Evening, October 27, 2003.

"We're in Norco and safe from the fires, but even in areas that aren't directly threatened it's surreal. The sky has been a dark orange-grey, everything is covered in ash, and the everything smells of smoke. It's terrifying. I have thought of nothing all weekend but those who are threatened and their animals."

Red Bullet  From Marci de la Torre. Monday Evening, October 27, 2003.

"We are safe for now. The closest fire is approximately 20 miles East of us at the eastern end of Temecula - beyond the wineries - I hope and pray it stays there. A large group has been evacuating horses to the DLR Ranch, which is a very large show facility in Temecula (close to Mekeel's and Green Acres). Reports (word of mouth) are that the fire swept through the Sage/Tucolota Valley area where there are many large horse ranches. I have heard from two different people that the fire was moving so fast that they were unable to get all of the horses out and that some of the ones they did move had been burned. I pray this isn't true and will keep trying to substantiate this awful story. Several friends of mine hooked up their trailers and joined the group that has been helping move horses for residents all night.

I will let you know more as I hear it. This fire seems to have fallen off  the local TV radar scope. Last night they were calling it the Rancho  California fire. They may have changed to calling it something else. I'm headed home at lunch to check on all my "babies" and will search the news for any more details."

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Red Bullet  From Jan Austin. Monday Morning, October 27, 2003.

"If anyone in S. CA needs help, PLEASE let me know. I can get quite a few trailers together on fairly short notice and have room for some horses at my place (Temecula area). My phone is  909-695-2043, 909-695-1043 or cell 909-833-8258. Also, 800-977-ARAB, or e-mail Jan Austin Fiernlace@AOL.COM ."

Red Bullet  From Leslie Benenson. Monday Morning, October 27, 2003.

Thoughts of concern and prayers for safety have reached us all this morning from England. Thank you Leslie for your phone call!

Red Bullet  From Melissa Paul. Monday Morning, October 27, 2003.

"They found Beyonet at Chino, same place as the girls. They just did not know he was there. And thank you for your thoughts of concern and prayers for our safety and welfare!"

Red Bullet  From Suzi Morris. Monday Morning, October 27, 2003.

"It sounds as if my horses in Temecula are out of harm's way and so are Margaret Rich's at Green Acres. What a relief to know they are safe, although suffering from a lot of smoky air. If you are in the Temecula area and need some help, there is room for you at Green Acres; just give them a call."

Red Bullet  From Melissa Paul. Sunday, October 26, 2003. 12:00 Noon.

"Thought I'd post to let you all know my horses and I survived. The barn is completely gone, a tangled mass of metal. The whole area is a moonscape.

I thought I was going to die. Walls of flame and basketball sized fireballs flying by my head. My horses were screaming. I got halters on only 3 of 4. My dog was in the car. Trailers were on the way when I had to leave because a wall of flame was on my east exit and another on my west. The wind wasn't high until the fire approached, then it created it's own wind, very strong and hot. It was more horrible than I can describe. The trailers couldn't make it through the fires then. I had to leave and never have I felt such shame. I went west and there was so much smoke and flame I couldn't see the bridge over the wash. So I got in the middle of the road, aimed, and gunned my car. Expected my horses were dead, NOTHING could live through that.

But the firestorm burned EVERYTHING around the pipe horse corrals, total devastation. But it didn't get the horses. I thought they were dead for hours (this was happening around 4 am)--not until at least 10am found they had been saved. I don't know where all of them are. The two mares (ages 21 and 29) went to Prado Equestrian Center in Chino. I was told the stallions (ages 21 and 25) went there but they didn't. I'm trying to find them now and am about to drop. Just came home to feed my dogs and cats and give their meds. Will grab a bite to eat and start searching.

I'm totally covered in ashes.

I hope no one has lost their family or pets. I know many houses have burned to the ground in Claremont.

The hay inside the barn is still burning. The neighbors are trying to put it out.

I am so thankful that my horses are alive. When I went to the evacuation center, the priest and I prayed and asked St. Francis for help. Please all of you say a few prayers for all the fire victims.


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Red Bullet  From Janet Stevenson. Sunday evening, October 26, 2003.

"Much gratitude and words of praise and thanks to Bill Hughes and his Staff at the Cal Poly Arabian Horse Center for sheltering my horses during our family's evacuation last night [Saturday] from the firestorm in the hills of Claremont. They all should be able to return home soon, it appears the firefighters are gaining control of the [Grand Prix] fire in our immediate area." 

(For those of you who do not know her, Janet is a friend and advocate for the Kellogg Heritage Herd Project at Cal Poly, Pomona.)

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Red Bullet   Links for More information on Firestorm 2003: (Current as of: November 7, 2003)

How You Can Help

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Arabian Network

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This website space is provided by Arieana Arabians as a courtesy to advocates for advancing the CMK Heritage here in Southern California. For information on posting your SoCal CMK Heritage news,  announcements, and Classified Ads please contact:

Suzi Morris
30685 Calle Chueca
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675-1601
Phone: 949-248-1260

Good Luck Horseshoe

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Copyright 2003-2007. Website designed and maintained by Suzi Morris. All rights reserved. This page created for SoCal CMK Heritage News Fall 2003 and last reviewed for modifications and updates: April 20, 2007.