This story was on my FB feed yesterday:
From Facebook Story #1
To Hilary Johnson and Augie of Paradise, Calif.- I just wanted to let you know that the three Redding law enforcement officers and myself kept our promise.
I met Hillary and Augie in a shopping center parking lot on the afternoon of Nov. 8th. She had just escaped the flames of the Camp Fire that burned through Paradise, CA with just the clothes on her back, riding Augie to a safe place. Hillary lost her home and everything to the fire.
As she stood watching the impending movement of the fire with other locals residents of Paradise, law enforcement were going around encouraging all of us to leave, as the flames were just burning across the street. While standing in the lot, Hillary in tears walked passed me. I stopped her to ask what was going on. She had made the decision to set Augie free since there was no transport for him and she could not just leave him tied up in the lot. As concern grew three Redding officers who had rescued dogs left behind in abandoned homes, talked her out of this decision. They were not going to let this happen…as instantly a brain storming session started on how to get Augie a ride. Aided with the help of locals, they were directed to a U Haul location where they might be able to commander a trailer, . So off they went, setting off on a quest to save Augie.
So Hillary said her good byes, Can’t tell you how hard it was to watch that, And yes I kept my camera at my side. I promised her that I would stay as long as I could, to then cut Augie loose before the fire took over the area, as she and the other residents prepared to drive off to safety, with Augie tied to a shopping cart cage moved to a opening in the lot.
So there we were, Augie and I, standing in a parking lot ALONE with flames visible in the near distance, smoke turning day into night. Hoping for the officers to have found a trailer. Funny what goes through your mind when you’re standing with a horse with hell surrounding you…
I needed a plan now for myself…how long do I stay? Cut him loose and head for safety or walk Augie next to my car as far as I could if needed or wait and see if the flames pass around us. So I put a blinking red LED light I use during protest on him, so he could be seen in the darkness of the choking smoke, if I did let him run. I think it was about 15 – 20 minutes after she had left, and all that passed were police and fire vehicles racing by. Smoke continued to thickened darken the skies, when a truck with a utility trailed drove near. I was thinking it was a local looking for a safe place, but no, it was those three Redding officers!!! Can’t tell you how I felt seeing them.
With smiles on their faces, seeing we were still there. They spent no time getting the trailer opened, with not much headroom or space in general, since there was a quad in the trailer too. It took a little bit of coaxing to get him in to the trailer. About 5-10 minutes. Augie was amazingly calm and did what he needed to do.
Now it was time to leave, with three trucks, one with a utility trailer and myself. We convoyed through fire lined streets of Paradise where I left them to continue to safety as I went back to work.
From there, my story ends with my time with Augie, I have no idea if Hillary was reunited with him. But I know I did the right thing.
So if anyone from the Paradise area who knows Hillary Johnson, please forward this story. I know she has nothing, not even a phone, which was lost in the fire. I would love to hear her story of her and Augie together. My heart goes out to all who lost everything in the Camp Fire.
Copyright EPA Photos/Peter DaSilva NOT FOR PROFESSIONAL USE.
THESE ARE THE PHOTOS FROM THE FB PAGE WHICH WERE TAKEN BY PETER DASILVA – he has a copyright so don’t use these for any professional purpose.
We were dispatched to the white cloud stables on Kanan just east of Mulholland. When we arrived we thought it was too late because the entire stable complex was burned to the ground. We were told that the three horses we needed to evacuate where in the arena number 2, so we searched in the dark and found not only the three horses we were looking for but we witnessed a mother give birth to a pony that was running free outside of the arena and the stables. So we had to make 4 adult Horses fit into a three horse trailer and my Brother Chris volunteered to sit in the back of my pick up under blankets with the new pony all the way to Burbank where we contacted the veterinarian. The veterinarian gave both the mother and the newborn pony a good bill of health. Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought we would be faced with a situation like this. What a fucking unbelievable day!
Because the pony was born in the fire all three of us on the rescue mission decided to name him Spark.
GO HUG YOUR HORSE TODAY… there are so many devastating stories right now…