October 3, 2020
Anna White saves her brother’s horse from the Washington state wildfire. (Credit: Telah Brignan)
The photo of a Washington grandmother in a car gently guiding a horse through a smoky road has gone viral, providing the latest glimpse into the most destructive wildfire in the Evergreen State’s history.
Anna White, a 75-year-old resident of the Colville Indian Reservation, helped her brother’s horse on September 9. Her niece, Telah Brignan, snapped a photo of White sitting in the driver’s seat of her Honda. In the image, White’s left arm is outstretched, grasping onto the saddle of the black thoroughbred. Smoke lingers in every direction.
Since it was posted to Facebook, the photo has received thousands of likes and comments on social media. According to Brignan, the fire came within feet of the horse’s stable.
“I thought I was just going to have to open the gate and let him free, but she went out of her way to lead the horse with her car so he would be OK,” Brignan said.
White guided the horse five miles into town, where local community members offered their barns and stables for temporary relief. The horse is reported to be in good health.
The Indian Colville Reservation is located in the north-central part of Washington, 100 miles west of Spokane. A predominantly rural area, the reservation is home to more than 9,500 Colville Tribe members.
The dramatic rescue happened as multiple wildfires spread across the Pacific Coast in early September. According to Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, 330,000 acres burned in the state in a single day. Inslee said that’s more acres burned than 12 of the last 18 fire seasons.
“We all had to sit there in our cars and wait and hope that houses weren’t burning down,” Brignan said. “There were still flames around the house the next day.”
The family’s shed — which was just a few feet away from their home — went up in flames. The house itself was left unscathed.
The massive fire on the Indian Colville Reservation sent smoke into Spokane, which raised the air quality to hazardous levels, per the Spokane Regional Health District. The air quality in the region stood at a level of 479. According to the official US Air Quality Index, it is considered unhealthy when it exceeds 100 and hazardous when it exceeds 300.
The minor fires that remain in Washington have been contained, though air quality across the state continues to stay at near hazardous levels.