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April 23, 2012

19 Horses Die In McDowell Barn Fire

An early morning fire on April 23 destroyed advanced eventer Martha McDowell’s Billings, Mont., barn, resulting in the death of 19 horses.

The fire began around 5 a.m. at High Plains Stable, and the Billings and Laurel fire departments responded to the call. The barn was about 20,000 square feet with metal siding and roofing.

Martha’s husband, Greg, told the Billings Gazette there was an employee sleeping in a trailer outside the barn, but that person didn’t wake up until the barn was fully engulfed in flames.

Beth Nedrow, a boarder of about a year, said she received a call around 7 a.m. that the barn was gone. “It went very, very quickly,” she said. Her daughter’s horse was in the barn when it caught fire.

Approximately a dozen horses in nearby paddocks were unharmed. Nedrow said they are currently working to transport the horses to a nearby barn because the fire left no way for the horses to be cared for.

Greg said they have not experienced any electrical problems or fire hazard concerns since purchasing the barn approximately seven years ago.

The fire investigators are unsure what caused the fire and suspect it might take several days to complete the investigation. Nedrow said the investigators have the barn roped off and are not disclosing any information about the investigation.