Horses romp around sports field as school offers refuge from fire

Horses stand in the burnt out Pezula Private Estate Property where some houses were destroyed by the fire.
Picture: Esa Alexander

The fire in Knysna has not only been a threat to human lives and property but to the many animals that call the coastal town home.

Bianca Guassardo‚ 29‚ a horse owner‚ was extremely worried about her animal when the fire spread onto the farm she stays at in Knysna on Wednesday.

“My horse was running wild because you can imagine that he was under threat. We struggled to calm him down at first.”

Guassardo has had Thunder for seven years and shares a close bond with him. “When the fires came‚ I immediately wanted to take him to a place of safety. We have been together for a long time and I wasn’t going to lose him.”

Thunder was evacuated to the Knysna Primary school sportsfield.

Adri Swanepoel‚ a horse owner as well‚ had taken it upon herself to obtain the necessary permission to look after horses at the school sportsfield.

Picture: Esa Alexander

“There are three owners’ horses currently at the school. We took them there when the fires flared up on Saturday again. For now the school is the safest spot for the horses to be in and they will stay there until it is safe to return to their homes‚” she said at the weekend.

“It was a mission travelling with the animals. They were stressed and instinct told them that something is wrong. Also‚ having planes constantly flying over them (for water drops) makes them anxious. But at least they are safe and under no threat‚” said Swanepoel.

Knysna Animal Welfare has also been instrumental in taking in animals and seeing that they are cared for at a safe facility on the outskirts of the town.

“At this stage we are taking in animals whose owners have lost their homes. Owners came to us and asked that we care for their animals until they find a place to stay‚” said Retha Havenga from Knysna Animal Welfare Organisation.

Inspectors were constantly on the ground searching for injured and stray animals. Fortunately‚ Havenga said‚ there were no reports of animals who were seriously injured or died from the fire.

“We have taken in cats‚ dogs‚ geese‚ chickens‚ pigs‚ cows and horses. We even‚ with the help of SANParks‚ took wild animals to a safe area where it is not burning‚” said Havenga.

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