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Wild Horses get added protection from wildfires

Salt River Wild Horses Management Group said they will lay down a fire retardant barrier between the property and Beeline Highway.

PHOENIX — Arizona has already had several wildfires over the last week – and experts say it could be an indication of the type of season we’ll have if we have another dry monsoon.

Fires put lives and property at risk and it also affects wildlife.

The Tonto National Forest is home to more than 400 wild horses where they roam free.

“They’re kind animals. They don’t hurt anyone. They just peacefully exist on our public lands,” said Simone Netherlands. President of the Salt River Wild Horses Management Group.

The nonprofit group is working to protect the familiar symbol of the southwest in the drought.

“We’ve just not been able to stop feeding the horses because of this terrible drought,” said Neatherlands.

The lack of rain also brings the danger of wildfires, especially along the Beeline highway.

“You can see how busy this highway is. You can see all this dry brush on the side of the highway and if a car stops here, it’ll catch of fire,” said Netherlands as she points to the dried brush on the side of the highway and extends to the management group’s property line.

Cars have been known to cause brush fires with sparks from dangling chains, cigarette buds thrown from the windows and just simply overheating on the side of the road.

Flames or embers from those vehicles could head straight up the hill to where the wild horses graze behind the SRWHMG property.

Using money from donations - they hired a company called Perimeter Solutions to apply fire retardant along the front of their property to create a barrier.

RELATED: Tips for preventing wildfires as summer in the Valley heats up

The idea came last year when the Goldfield fire nearly reached the nonprofit’s property.

“That hill was burned. That hill was burned and then the fire retardant dropped – we saw how the fire came all the way up to it and stopped right at the retardant,” said Netherlands. Pointing to the nearest hills in the National Forest where the wild horses were grazing.

The added retardant offers peace of mind in what could be a brutal wildfire season.

ALSO: Arizona utility working to keep power on as scorching summer heat inches closer

“We’re trying to do as much prevention as we can to keep our volunteers safe. Keep our rescued horses safe and keep the wild horses safe,” said Netherlands.

Netherlands would also like to see ADOT trim back more of the brush from the side of the highway to help prevent any sparks from the Beeline highway.

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