Do you know what to do if you’re in a fire-prone area and get told to evacuate? If you live in certain areas of California, that’s quickly become less of a hypothetical and more of a reality.
The late summer and early fall is always a bad time for wildfires, as there is a lot of dead plant material and little rain. The recent drought didn’t help things, either.
The Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California, traveled fast and left people stranded or scrambling to get out before their homes were engulfed in flames. As of Nov. 15, Cal Fire reports the Woolsey Fire as being 57% contained after burning through over 98,000 acres.
As the fire raged, not only were people in danger, but horses and other animals were at risk as well. Crews of dedicated owners and good Samaritans were busy rounding up and trailering out as many animals as quickly as they could before the flames cut off their escape.
One woman, Rebecca Hackett, was helping her mother and others secure 48 horses ahead of the fire at White Cloud Ranch, where she kept her own horses. By the time she had finished and turned to go, she was almost too late.
The video she filmed catches her pleading for help as she drives through the hellish landscape. She goes through tunnels in the mountainside only to be greeted by walls of fire, and she repeatedly prays out loud for help.
Embers kept raining down on her windshield, and at one point she either drove off the road or ran over a rumble strip or other debris. Somehow, her tires managed to hold together and her vehicle didn’t catch on fire.
Despite the fact that she got out, this video is not easy to watch — especially with the way it cuts off at the end. It’s a terrifying reminder that wildfires are not a joke, and if you get told to evacuate, this is the reason why.
“I felt the strongest wind I ever felt in my life,” she told ABC. “The fire came so quickly. One minute it was calm and then suddenly they were on top of us, so we had to evacuate.”
“I drove through flames for about two minutes. I thought I was going to die. I’m down in the valley now but there is still smoke everywhere.”
“That’s all I could think… I just have to keep driving, because if I don’t I’m — nobody’s going to come in here and save me,” she said.
One commenter on Facebook posted a photo of a horse that she helped save. “This is Pacific, one of Brian Flanagan’s horses she saved. He is now safe in Somis. Thank you for your devotion.”
“She is a HERO!!!” commented Larissa Dawn Marie Decker, who seemed to know the lay of the land in Malibu. “She was able to save 48 horses driving through this insane fire! That was the ONLY road out. Glad she made it out alive with the horses. ??”
In an interview with ABC on Tuesday, Hackett said that not all the horses are in the clear yet, but her Instagram post from a day after her viral video was posted sounded hopeful.
“Yesterday on Encinal Canyon in Malibu,” she wrote. “Praying for everyone who lost everything. We are prepared to help Topanga.”
“All our horses are safe. If you are missing horses in Malibu and I can help in anyway by sharing pictures on Instagram, please let me know.”
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