SIMI VALLEY, Calif. – 'Vincent Van Goat' may not be as famous as the Dutch post-impressionist painter he was named after but perhaps he should be.
That’s because Vincent and about 150 fellow goats that include 'Selena Goatmez' and 'Goatzart' helped save the Ronald Regan Presidential Library during the Easy fire.
How? By simply eating and creating a fire break around the structure.
“The goats eat, they spend their whole lives eating, they clear hillsides and reduce the vegetation,” said Scott Morris.
Morris started 805 Goats about a year ago with his wife. It’s not uncommon to see his wife and three children at the different locations helping install temporary fencing to keep the goats in and helping herd the animals so they stay on task.
It’s not something he ever saw himself doing.
“I had never touched a goat in my entire life outside of petting zoo," said Morris.
It wasn’t until he joined toastmasters, a public speaking forum. There he got the idea after meeting a chief from the Ventura County Fire Department.
“He would talk about the lack of supply of goats that were needed for this particular area down here in this area and the firefighters like using goats to clear fuel,” said Morris.
He spent the next two years building a business plan and last May, through a grant obtained by the Ventura County Fire Department, his goats were hired to clear the brush around the Reagan Library.
“Those goats eat away at that thick under brush and it’s that underbrush that when it ignites, it just drives these huge flames so having less of that brush around is a lot of help,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute.
“You could clearly see yesterday on the news as the fire was approaching, there was a fire break and that’s where the goats ate the vegetation down,” said Morris.
While Morris knows the real heroes are the firefighters, it makes him and his family feel good to know his goats helped out