During the California wildfires in 2018, a viral image shows a horse trapped in a pool after attempting to flee the flames. As Facebook groups sought to reunite lost animals with their owners, a terrible story about a horse caught in the state’s deadliest wildfire emerged. Jeff Hill, a former Paradise resident, drove about to offer assistance during the crisis, but was unprepared for the tragic scene that he came to.
Jeff Hill made an unexpected discovery in a backyard while checking on a home after the Camp Fire nearly destroyed Paradise. According to Hill’s Facebook post, a horse was discovered dangling in a pool cover, shivering violently and looking defeated. Fortunately, the pool cover protected the horse from the deadliest wildfire in California history. Hill said he didn’t know how long the horse had been in the pool, but thanks to the pool cover, the animal was able to stay in the water without drowning until the fire was out, as he explained in his now-viral article.
“I was checking to see if someone’s house was still standing when we came across this [horse] who had given up and had a defeated look in her eyes,” Jeff posted on Facebook. The crew Jeff was with worked immediately to liberate the horse by unfastening the pool cover, transferring the animal to the shallow area of the pool, and then leading her up the steps.
According to Hill’s Facebook post, the horse shook off the tension and expressed appreciation by affectionately interacting with the rescuers for a brief while before confidently walking away, assuring them that she was well. The images of the horse’s ordeal are heartbreaking, but she is a survivor who overcame the wildfires with her quick reflexes and the assistance of Jeff and his team. “Today, in the midst of all the misery,” Hill concluded, “I saw a glimpse of joy.”
The horse stood there for a moment, as if aware of Jeff’s rescue efforts, before rising to leave. The horse looked to have sought sanctuary in the pool to escape the sweltering heat, but became entangled by the pool’s cover. “She got out, shook off, loved on us for a few minutes as a thank you, and walked away assuring us that she was ok,” the man wrote. Nonetheless, it is evident that the pool was crucial to the horse’s survival. The thought of what might have happened if Jeff hadn’t been there to free her is too upsetting to bear.