Wine country fire: Owner of horse rescue center refuses to leave horses behind

High winds turned a bad situation worse in wine country, catching fire officials and residents completely off guard; Claudia Cowan reports from Santa Rosa, California.

The owner of a horse rescue center in Bangor, Calif., said her property is essentially surrounded by flames but unless “somebody puts a gun” to her, she is not going to leave her 72 horses behind.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that Monica Hardeman, the owner of Equine Rescue Center, and her ranch director were committed to staying with the horses, and are trying to make sure the animal are in  safe space.

She told the paper that they had to put sick horses in the same area as healthy ones to assure their safety. But the fire is raging and it is unclear how long they will be able to stay put. The report said they have a truck packed in case the situation gets even worse.


“I don’t want to leave because I know [officers] won’t let me back, so I’m not leaving,” Hardeman said. “Unless somebody puts a gun to me or something I might leave, but … right now, I go where they go and nobody could get up here yesterday [to move the horses], they wouldn’t let people in. …I’m not leaving.”

The death toll from wildfires raging in Northern California has now grown to 17.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office announced two additional deaths there late Tuesday. That brings the county’s total to 11. The other six are spread among Napa, Yuba and Mendocino counties.

The Sheriff’s Office released only the names of the streets where the deceased were discovered, and no information on the identities or circumstances of the deaths.

The series of fires that flared up north of San Francisco on Sunday night are among the deadliest in California history.

The blazes have also left at least 180 people injured and have destroyed more than 2,000 homes and businesses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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