Goats Munching on Vegetation Helped Save the Reagan Presidential Library in California Wildfire
The library brings in 400 to 500 goats each May to eat brush and create fire break lines
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum emerged unscathed from a fast-moving wildfire on Wednesday thanks to an unlikely source: goats.
That’s right — the brush-chewing mammals are partially to thank, as they come to the library’s 100-acre Simi Valley campus each year to consume any and all brush in the area before it has the chance to ignite.
“We work with the Ventura County Fire Department every May and they bring in 400 to 500 goats who spend three to four weeks at the library eating all the brush and creating fire break lines,” library spokeswoman Melissa Giller explains to PEOPLE.
Their work several months ago came in handy this week as the Easy Fire encroached, prompting a mandatory evacuation on Wednesday.
Despite the precautionary evacuation, the campus did not sustain any damage as first responders kept the blaze at bay with help from water-dropping helicopters.
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The Reagan Library is home to hundreds of artifacts and interactive displays about the 40th U.S. president, and includes replicas of the White House’s Rose Garden and White House South Lawn.
It also contains the Air Force One Pavilion, which currently has the former president’s Air Force One on display, along with one of Reagan’s presidential limousines.
Its precious displays were spared thanks also in part to indoor precautions that the museum has in place for occasions like this.
Giller explains that both the museum and its archives have fire doors, which would help keep any flames from spreading.
“If a fire was to break out, the doors close and lock — trapping the fire within a very small space,” she said. “Industrial fire sprinklers then turn on to douse the fire.”
Though the fire is no longer threatening the area directly, the Library was closed on Thursday.
“We cannot thank the firefighters enough for keeping us safe. We are eternally grateful. You are all heroes,” a statement on its site read.
The Easy Fire broke out on Wednesday and has so far burned more than 1,723 acres, Ventura County Fire Department Public Information Officer Mike DesForges said at a press conference.
No civilians have been injured, though 7,000 homes were evacuated and threatened by the flames. The cause of the fire is under investigation.