ITOW: Angie Grove

In Their Own Words--3.jpg

On Thursday afternoon I drove up to White Cloud Ranch, on Kanan, to see my horses Saki and Sundance. I’d just moved in there. But by the time I got up there it was too windy to take them out, so I just said, ‘Alright girls. You’re alive. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

But as I was driving down Kanan I could see the plume of smoke from Woolsey beginning, right next to plumes from the Hill Fire. I called a couple other trainers but they were like, “Just relax. It’s far.” 

But later that night, the owners of Brookview Ranch called me, where I have a training barn. They were anxious about Woolsey and we decided it would best to just evacuate that night.   So we spent the night moving horses to Pierce College, loading up tack into my car. I ended up with $100,000 worth of saddles.  The whole time there was this feeling like, okay, we’re doing all this just to come back tomorrow. But once you start the process, no one wants to be the person that’s like ‘Eh, I’m over it. Never mind.’

I got home to Woodland Hills at  4 a.m. and just passed out. I slept for an hour, and when I woke up, my phone was blowing up. Everyone said, ‘It’s coming.’

I was frantic. I threw on my clothes from the night before, jumped in the car and started heading to White Cloud to get Saki and Sundance. I was on the phone with a students’ mother, Lisa Thomas, who had already gotten there with her trailer. She said she was taking them and going. 

But I still wanted to get to White Cloud. It took me a while on side roads, but I finally got to Kanan. Really carefully, I started driving up. It was a fiery inferno. I thought, I don’t know if I can do this. I kept stopping and starting. But finally, I decided I had to leave.

When I got to PCH I still couldn’t get in touch with Lisa, but another client, Marty, got through to me. She told me she was at Zuma Beach with her animals: five horses and eleven dogs. I headed down there and when I finally found Marty, a woman I’d never met walked up to me with Saki and Sundance. She told me Lisa’s trailer had lost its breaks in a tunnel on Kanan, and this woman had taken all her horses into her trailer. So now, Marty and I had eight horses. 

Throughout the day we kept getting pushed farther down Zuma. Throughout the day, people kept calling, saying they were bringing us trailers. But then they couldn’t get through, or they said they had to go elsewhere. It got later, and later. We were all on 0 sleep, but didn’t sleep. We  just sat on the sand dunes, and watched as Point Dume started to catch fire. 

Finally, around 4 a.m., Chad Atkins with Paw Works got through with a few trailers. We were able to get all our horses and a few strays to the Ventura Humane Society in Ojai. 

When I finally got to my boyfriend’s house on Saturday afternoon, I slept for a day straight. Like I had the flu. He would just come bring me food, but I couldn’t get up. 

When I finally did, I found out White Cloud had been destroyed. Everything I had there was gone. MM

Holly Bieler