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Hill Fire evacuees reunite with horses - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Hill Fire evacuees reunite with horses

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The Hill Fire scattered residents and horses from the evacuation zones, and with those orders lifted Tuesday, owners are now being reunited with their animals.

Approximately 250 people were evacuated from the Parkhill Road area when the fire broke out Monday afternoon east of Santa Margarita.

The Horse Emergency Evacuation Team of San Luis Obispo County (HEET) rescued nine horses from the evacuation zone. While they focus on horses, they also ended up rescuing other animals: three goats and two chickens to be exact. 

"Whatever we can fit," said Heidi Goetz, HEET member. "I don't know if I could fit a rhinoceros in my trailer, but I'd sure try."

While residents were rushing out of harm's way and the fast moving flames Monday night, volunteers with HEET were driving into the evacuation zone.

"It was quite the emergency, the helicopters, the trucks. I was only thinking on the task," Goetz said.  

Their task was to reach the animals before the flames could. Three days later, evacuee Cynthia Freeman finally got a homecoming with her four horses.

"I couldn't thank you enough. I'm just so happy they are alive," she said. 

Her horses were saved just minutes before their barn burned down.

"The animals are safe. The barn can be replaced. The animals can't be," Freeman said. 

HEET members aren't paid to do what they do. They're all volunteers.

"We love it, we love the animals, we love the people, the community. (It's a) labor of love," Goetz said.

HEET also spent some time checking on other animals like cats and dogs, giving them food and water until their owners were able to return home.

To learn more about the non-profit organization, click here

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