Wildfires Devastate California, Oregon, Washington: How You Can Help [Updated 9/17]

Fires turn skies blood orange. Photo courtesy of Madison Flanders.

Wildfires continue to ravage the West Coast, killing 35 and burning nearly five million acres of land. These fires are leaving thousands displaced across California, Oregon and Washington State. Officials in California are saying that three of the fires currently burning are the largest in state history. Last week Washington lost more acres in a single day than in the past 12 seasons combined, according to Governor Jay Inslee.

Fire alone is not the only danger to residents, smoke inhalation has become a major concern for horses and humans alike. As air quality across the western United States continues to tank, UC Davis has compiled a guidelines for horses exposed to wildfire smoke. A windy weather system is expected to move in throughout the week, and could dissipate some of the smoke, but experts fear it could also fan the flames.

The USEF released a statement this week leaving the decisions of cancellation be left to individual competitions because “venue conditions can vary and can change rapidly depending upon weather, geography, and other factors.” The governing body has recommended that, in situations where the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches 151 or above, an organizer consider suspending or cancelling competition. In cases of cancellation, organizers must inform competitors about refund or credit policies. You can read their entire statement at this link.

With hundreds of fires ranging, residents are forced to prepare for evacuation. Eventers Shannon Lilley and Lauren Billys Shady both were forced to relocate their horses last month amid approaching flames. Thankfully, both barns were able to escape to safety.

Equestrians have banned together to help those in need, with many turning to Facebook for assistance with hauling or stabling relocation. Here are regional groups with options: PNW Equine EvacuationNorCal Equine Emergency EvacuationSouthern California Equine Emergency Evacuation.

As you likely know by now, Oregon, California and Washington are currently experiencing an unprecedented wildfire…

Posted by American Association of Equine Practitioners on Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Here is a running list of resources that have been brought to our attention, which we will keep updated. Please email [email protected] with additional listings.

American Association of Equine Practitioners, or AAEP, has created The Foundation for the Horse, which is delivering supplies quickly to those in need including care, medical supplies, hay, feed, and more. Visit their website to learn more, and be sure to select “Disaster Relief” when donating.

Cowgirl 911 is an animal evacuation and assistance group made entirely of community-driven volunteers. Right now they are focusing their efforts on the Pacific Northwest and connecting those who can help with those who need help. If you can offer transport or donations, click here.

The UC Davis Emergency Veterinary Response Team has been working tirelessly to rescue animals of all sizes affected by the fires. So far they’ve treated over 1,000 animals impacted by the Lightning Complex Fire. This team is made entirely of volunteers. If you’d like to donate, you can find more information at this link.

The Oregon State University’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine is providing care tho animals affected in Oregon. Click here to donate to their Wildfire Response.

Sound Equine Options, a nonprofit in Gresham, OR, is working to re-home and care for horses affected by wildfires. Click here to donate. For those with barn space to share, especially in the northern Willamette Valley, please email [email protected] with your name, barn location and contact information and they will be in touch to connect you with those needing safe haven.

USEF Disaster Relief Fund is accepting donations via its website.

Our thoughts and prayers are with our West Coast friends. Stay safe!

This story is ongoing and updates will be posted here as they become available. Most recent update: 9/17 8:20 a.m. eastern.