Horses evacuated during wildfire return to San Diego stables

In this Dec. 7, 2017, file photo, terrified horses gallop from San Luis Rey Downs as the Lilac Fire sweeps through the horse-training facility in San Diego. Hundreds of thoroughbred horses evacuated during a wildfire late last year are being returned to their home at the center.

Paul Sisson, The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP

SAN DIEGO — Hundreds of thoroughbred horses evacuated during a wildfire late last year are heading back to their home at the San Luis Rey Training Center near San Diego, according to a report.

Forty-six horses were killed when the Lilac Fire on Dec. 7 raced across rolling hills near Fallbrook, known for barns and avocado groves.

More than 400 surviving thoroughbreds are being brought back to new, temporary stables or refurbished older ones that withstood the blaze, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The horses had been stabled about 35 miles (56 kilometers) to the south at Del Mar racetrack.

All the horses should be back at the training center by the end of the weekend. Accompanying them are more than 200 trainers, assistant trainers, groomers and stable hands who also had taken up post-fire residence at Del Mar.

"They all love the place and can't wait to get back," San Luis Rey general manager Kevin Habell told the newspaper.

The barns that survived the blaze have new metal roofs and have been pressure-washed to remove the smell of soot, he said. The older barns also have a new coat of paint, and landscaping throughout the facility has been replaced.

The fire destroyed seven barns and damaged an eighth at the 240-acre San Luis Rey site. More than 100 nearby homes were also destroyed.

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