Horse Properties and Fire Risk

The 2017 Lilac Fire in northern San Diego County left several horses dead when the fast-moving brush fire swept through land west of I-15, destroying a training center for racing horses. Any time you have a grassy, semi-rural horse property, you risk having to deal with brush fires. But you can lessen the risk of something happening to the horses if you look at potential new properties with an eye for prevention. Here are some points to consider.

Not Much Time

Whether you're looking for a horse property for a training center, boarding facility, or just for your own luxury pad with private stables, assume that you won't have much time to get the horses out of there if there is an emergency. The Lilac Fire, for example, was so sudden and severe that trainers eventually had to let those horses run free—there really was no time to get them out in trailers. If you look at what happened, though, you can try to mitigate any similar issues that might occur on your property.

Cleared Brush and Space for Hay

Any property you look at should already have brush cleared away from the house and the stables. Look at properties where maintenance brush clearing won't be that hard. If you see properties that are near thick brush that may be difficult to keep under control, you may want to look elsewhere.

An additional issue for horse owners is hay storage. One of the problems in the Lilac Fire was that hay for the horses caught on fire, bringing flames way too close to the stables. Look for space for hay storage that is not that close to where the horses will be. You want to be able to easily bring hay to the stables, of course, but don't stack the extra stuff right next to the buildings.

Building Materials

If you are looking at a property that already has structures, check for fire-resistant materials. Metal roofs and treated wood reduce the chances of the buildings catching fire. If you're planning to build structures, or if the existing structures need work, you can get fire-resistant siding, insulation, decking, framing, glass, and pretty much any other material. Your horses' lives are worth the cost.

No matter where you're planning to move, remember that there is likely to be a risk of brush fires. Keep your horses' safety in mind as you evaluate the property. Discuss your needs with a real estate agent like Keller Williams so that you don't spend time looking at properties that don't meet your requirements.