The 23 horses that died during the Cottonwood Fire in southeast Bakersfield may have been improperly boarded, which contributed to their deaths.

Kern County Animal Services Director Nick Cullen says it was an uphill battle to get to the horses off a ranch on Cottonwood and East Pacheco roads because the fire moved so fast and there were a lot of corrals in a small area.

Cullen says many horses would not come out of their corrals once the fire started on Monday because they did not see their owners. Animal Services is trying to find some of the owners.

Kelli Pierce