Archived News

Rescuing Horses from Fire

October 27, 2003

Advance preparation may make the difference between life and death for horses caught in the path of a fire.

John Madigan, a UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine authority on equine and emergency veterinary medicine, urges horse owners to first clear brush at least 30 feet from barns and corrals.

Trucks and trailers should be kept nearby and operational in case animals need to be evacuated, and an alternate exit by foot planned in case roads are blocked by fire. Stalls and doors should be closed after evacuation to prevent fire-panicked horses from running back inside. Any horse burned or exposed to heavy smoke should be examined by a veterinarian, and owners should not apply any topical treatments to burns.

Photographs and written descriptions of all horses should be kept in a bank safe-deposit box to help identify animals that become lost or separated during a fire.

Contact: John Madigan, office (530) 752-6513, or the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (530) 752-0290,

See also: DANR Guide to Disaster Preparedness