Los Angeles Times

California wildfires: For horses, no place to flee

SAN DIEGO - The evacuation of San Luis Rey Downs was orderly at first. Trainers at the 500-stall facility for racehorses in northern San Diego County led thoroughbreds from the stables into trailers or onto a nearby racetrack.

But as the Lilac fire raced closer, choking the paddocks with smoke and setting palm trees ablaze, the horses began to panic. By the time the barn roofs caught fire, the thousand-pound animals were stampeding.

"It just started coming so fast that we couldn't stay with it," trainer Linda Thrash said. "Eventually, we just had to turn them loose. There was not time to do anything else."

Some horses refused to leave their burning stables. Some got out

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