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Toxic firefighting foam likely to blame for death of 10 horses, owner claims


Firefighting foam is likely to blame for the death of 10 horses at a sanctuary north of Melbourne, according to the animals’ owner.

Michelle Zahra runs a horse sanctuary at Yan Yean called Lungta, usually home to about 55 horses.

But 10 have now died in the space of three weeks, the most recent only yesterday.

Michelle told Neil Mitchell she believes it’s due to firefighting foam that was dumped in the paddock last year.

“December last year the landlord did a burn off,” Michelle said.

“We think that some roots of trees had caught fire underneath so we called the CFA to come out.

“Over four or five days they came out and dumped foam on and around the area.

“We sort of didn’t think anything of it then a couple of months after that we put horses in that paddock, then I noticed about eight or nine weeks ago I noticed them start to become really flat, lethargic and dragging their feet, like they were depressed.”

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After losing only two horses in the seven years of running her sanctuary, Michelle had now lost 10 horses with four from the same paddock still sick.

Michelle said her vet couldn’t determine the exact cause of death, only to say their protein levels were dangerously low, despite being fed well.

The CFA dispute Michelle’s claims, providing a statement:

CFA attended a stump fire in Yan Yean on 20 November 2017 at 12.37pm. CFA crews remained on scene until 12.42pm. Crews returned the following day to monitor for potential spot fires, which is standard procedure.

As part of our standard procedure, CFA used Class A foam to suppress the fire. All standard operating procedures were complied with when using Class A foam at the fire.

Since 2005, CFA has stopped using firefighting foams containing PFOA and or PFOS.

Photo: Lungta Sanctuary