Image courtesy of Senior Airman Daniel Brosam via US Air Force

October 30, 2019; USA Today


The wildfires in and around Los Angeles have done massive damage, straining some nonprofits to the limit and threatening the existence of a number of others. The Getty Fire in western Los Angeles, for instance, involves more than 656 acres and necessitated the evacuation of 7,091 homes since Monday morning. It was still burning yesterday.

After the so-called Easy Fire neared but closely missed the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday, officials have been thanking the herd of goats that may have saved the day—at least for now.

The Easy Fire burned 250 acres  on both sides of the library, but it slowed as it neared the buildings. Why would it do such a thing?The Ventura County Fire Department brings hundreds of goats to the library each spring to clear the vegetation and create a firebreak around the buildings.

“It was darn smart for us to do that,” says John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, adding that the situation sure looked like “bad news” for a few hours, with flames coming within a few feet of the library pavilion holding Reagan’s Air Force One.

It was not the library’s first brush with a wildfire. “What saved this library was those brave helicopter pilots,” Heubusch said. “They braved 80-per-mile gusts [sic] to put water in that canyon. Gusts like that drove enormous flames up to the library.”

You will be glad to hear that all goats, as well as other livestock in the area, were evacuated as the fire neared.

While the 400-acre campus was developed with plenty of more standard and expensive fire protections, the goats, we hope all will agree, are a far better story. If the Library were smart it would make them a permanent exhibit, the way the sinkhole is at the Corvette Museum.—Ruth McCambridge