Machowsky said other trainers related that it was hard to navigate around the property as a result of limited visibility, while fire trucks attempted to stake out various barns in an attempt to control the blazes. San Diego camera shots showed a herd of horses moving freely, confined by the training track's rail.
Steve Rothblum, who works closely with trainer Doug O'Neill, said their stable got "six to 15" horses off the property before sheriff's officials put a halt to traffic because of the flames. The fire was reported about 11 a.m. "We turned a lot loose on the infield of the training track in hope".
Santa Anita officials sent vans to San Luis Rey Downs to aid in the evacuation, but there was concern the vans would not be able to reach the facility, according to Jim Cassidy, the president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers association.
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Officials ordered fresh evacuations in the forested areas of Ojai, which is near the fire's northern edge. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the county, in addition to Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where other massive brush fires were burning.
The fire dubbed Lilac Fire in San Diego County comes as residents in other parts of Southern California were surprised with destructive wildfires this week. The North County Fire Protection District has issued a mandatory evacuation for the area west of Lilac Road and Sullivan Middle School. Old Highway 395 was closed between West Lilac Road and Highway 76, Cal Fire said. As of 2:35 p.m., it was 1,000 acres in size with zero containment.
In a message posted on the Del Mar Racetrack Twitter page Thursday afternoon prior to the fire at San Luis Rey, the track encouraged evacuees to bring bedding, feed and horse identification to make the process go as smoothly as possible.