Firefighters worked through the day Wednesday, trying to save the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library alongside hundreds of homes, farms, and businesses, from the “Easy Fire” that raged across Simi Valley, California, torching more than a thousand acres.
It turns out, though, that the more than 700 personnel fighting the blaze had a hand from some hairy fire abatement professionals: a herd of hungry goats.
That’s right: a herd of goats may have helped save the Reagan Presidential Library.
CNN reports that a “herd of as many as 500 goats” was given the run of a hillside, conveniently located between the fire and the Library, earlier this year. The goats ate all of the available vegetation in their grazing zone, creating a natural firebreak, and depriving the fast-moving Simi Valley wildfire of fuel.
The Library, with the help of the Ventura county fire department, hired the goats from a company called 805 Goats, the Guardian reports. The animals munched through around 15 acres, creating a perimeter to protect the Library from wildfires.
805 Goats provides its services to a number of Los Angeles-era clients, including celebrities, and counts Selena Gomez among its satisfied customers. The firm charges $1000 per acre for its goats’ services.
“We actually worked with the Ventura county fire department in May and they bring out hundreds of goats to our property,” Melissa Giller, Reagan Presidential Library spokeswoman, told a local news outlet. “The goats eat all of the brush around the entire property, creating a fire perimeter.”
“One of the firefighters mentioned that they do believe the goats’ fire line helped them fight this fire,” she added. “They just proved today how useful they really are.”
Although the goats provided an assist, of course, more than 700 firefighters were called in to contain the Easy Fire located to the north and west of Los Angeles, California, which burned nearly 2,000 acres on Wednesday and threatned 6,500 structures before it was partially contained.
Fire crews on the ground were aided by “non-stop water drops” and a defensive fire line.
“It’s a whole lot of fire trucks, a whole lot of heroes out here protecting President Reagan’s library,” John Heubusch, the library’s executive director told a local news outlet affiliated with CNN. “They’re doing a heroic job.”
Reagan Library staff reported that Wednesday’s fire, which forced all but a skeleton crew of curators and administrators to evacuate to safer areas, was the closest the library has ever come to being consumed.
“The flames are licking right up the hills, right up to the parking lot,” the Library’s executive director said. “I think the parking lot will save the library.”
It is not known whether the goats who created the fire line emerged from the fire unscathed. The area surrounding the library is mostly farms and horse ranches and hundreds of head of livestock were evacuated along with the humans.
The Easy Fire is only one of several fires raging through south and central California, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and leaving millions without power. On Thursday, several fire departments reported, for the first time, that they were gaining the upper hand on blazes that have been burning since last week.
The largest fire, the Kincade Fire, which has been burning through Napa and Sonoma Valleys, burning nearly 80,000 acres and threatening California’s wine industry, is now 60% contained, according to the Riverside Valley Fire Department.
“A red flag warning for the region has ended, and the winds have subsided ‘quite a bit,’ according to a representative from the National Weather Service. Temperatures are expected to plunge to the high 20s overnight,” CBS News reported. “More than 5,000 people remain under evacuation orders. Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said 10 people were arrested Wednesday for illegally entering evacuation zones.”
Authorities have yet to say what started the wildfires, but at least two appear to have been sparked by faulty electrical equipment from PG&E, which maintains California’s electrical grid and provides electrical power to California residents.