Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

This week’s question: Why isn’t Earl Warren Showgrounds open to shelter horses and large animals during these current fires?
— Jessie Mercer, Santa Barbara

Earl Warren Showgrounds, 3400 Calle Real in Santa Barbara, was hosting the National Multibreed Horse Show when the Whittier Fire broke out Saturday afternoon.

The fire, which started near Camp Whittier across Highway 154 from Lake Cachuma, had grown to nearly 8,000 acres Sunday. It forced the evacuation of a wide area of camps and ranches.

Santa Barbara County officials initially said Earl Warren was accepting limited numbers of evacuated large animals, but said Monday the showgrounds was taking horses. 

Earl Warren Showgrounds CEO Scott Grieve said they had an equine evacuation team at the showgrounds soon after the fire started Saturday and they have taken four horses as of Monday afternoon. They have been accepting evacuated horses for the fire, he said. 

It’s not many compared to past fires — they sheltered about 140 horses during the Jesusita Fire, he recalled. 

The showgrounds does have a horse show going on, but it only takes up 350 stalls out of 600, Grieve said. 

“We have room here and we don’t want people to think we’re shirking our duty,” he said. 

People are advised to call the county hotline at 805.681.4332 for information about evacuating large animals, or people can call Earl Warren directly at 805.687.0766, Grieve said. 

Sheltering evacuated animals at the showgrounds is free, he noted. 

At least two horses evacuated during the Whittier Fire were taken to the showgrounds Saturday, said Susan Klein-Rothschild, deputy director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.

“They did allow us to use a couple stalls,” she said.

Click here for the latest information on Whittier Fire evacuation areas and shelters.

Small animals evacuated during the fire were being accepted at the Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Road in Santa Barbara.

Several evacuated animals were sheltered Saturday, including a horse, cats, dogs, birds and a guinea pig, according to the county.

Early Sunday, a Santa Barbara County animal control officer made a special animal evacuation for homeowners who were out of town, safely rescuing two schnauzers that were later reunited with their owners, Klein-Rothschild said.

Click here for the latest information on evacuation areas and shelters for the Alamo Fire, which started Thursday and has burned nearly 24,000 acres east of Santa Maria.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.