The husband of a trainer badly burned while trying to save horses from the fast-moving Lilac Fire in North County is speaking about their experience in the blaze, just days after his wife awoke from a coma.
Martine Bellocq suffered burns to their body while trying to rescue some of the hundreds of elite training horses stabled at San Luis Rey Downs in Bonsall the day the Lilac Fire erupted near the intersection of Interstate 15 to State Route 76 last December.
Bellocq was hospitalized and placed in a medically-induced coma. Bellocq’s brother-in-law told NBC 7 she suffered second and third-degree burns on over 50 percent of her body.
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Pierre Bellocq admitted he still doesn't like interviews because it forces him to relive that day, but he's had so many people ask about Martine and wanted to give an update on her condition.
He begins by describing the moment flames started surrounding the training center. People scattered to try to put out the flame but the winds were strong.
“I noticed the palm trees caught fire and that's when we really started to worry because the wind picked up and it was like firing missiles into the barn area,” Pierre told NBC 7.
He immediately rushed one of his horses away from the flames nearing the barn while Martine was working to corral some others.
“When I went back to the barn things had gotten really bad,” Pierre said. “I found my wife, Martine, slumped on the ground in tears.
“She was burned so badly, but she was not crying out from physical pain.”
Pierre told NBC 7 Martine was crying because she couldn’t save her favorite horse, Wild Bill Hickory.
Pierre then helped Martine onto a golf cart and rushed her to first responders. She was airlifted to UC San Diego Medical Center where she remains more than a month later.
Martine awoke from a coma this week, Pierre told NBC 7. She has undergone multiple surgeries and has many more to go. She is heavily sedated and still cannot communicate.
But Pierre said there is progress.
This week, one of Martine’s horses raced for the first time since the fire. Her horse came in second. Pierre shared the news with Martine during one of his daily visits.
“She did open her eyes for a little bit, almost as a reaction,” Pierre told NBC 7.
Pierre said that although there is a long road to recovery ahead, it appears Martine will make a full recovery.
A fundraising page has been set up to assist the Bellocqs with medical costs.