Disaster plans imperative for fire-stricken Australian horse owners

The east coast of Australia is tinder dry and NSW has issued a catastrophic fire warning. © NSW Rural Fire Service

Horse owners in New South Wales and Queensland are being urged to put their disaster plans in place and move their animals to a safe area, following fire emergencies in the Australia states.

The NSW Government has issued a catastrophic fire warning for the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter and Illawarra Shoalhaven areas in the state today, because of worsening weather conditions. Catastrophic is the highest level of bush fire danger. Homes are not designed to withstand a fire under these conditions.

Large areas of the state are also forecast to experience severe and extreme fire danger. This includes in the north coast and northern NSW areas, where there are many fires already burning. These fires will not be contained in time and will threaten lives and properties.

A State of Fire Emergency has been declared across 42 Local Government Areas in Queensland, with fire crews were battling multiple blazes. Several areas are currently under a “watch and act” warning, and people are urged to be ready to leave the area.

Dr Sam Nugent, President of Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA), is urging horse owners to find a secure area.

“If you cannot get your horses to a safe area then the ideal location is a large, well-grazed paddock or a series of smaller paddocks with the internal gates left open.”

For safety reasons, he said it was important not to let horses out on the roads as they will be in more danger from traffic and fire.

“It’s critical not to lock your horses in a stable, holding yard or similar environment, as they may panic and hurt themselves if confined. In addition, the EVA asks that you remove all gear from your horse as it could get caught on fences, melt or become very hot and cause serious burns, plus do not leave rugs on your horse.”

The Australian Veterinary Association said it was imperative that horse owners had a plan and that they acted early.

NSW – Fire updates

Queensland – Fire updates

The NSW bushfire information hotline number is 1800 362 361.

AVA resources on protecting horses, livestock and pets in natural disasters are available for download.

Bushfire survival plan (NSW)


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