A barn fire claimed the lives of 24 horses at Folly Farm in Simsbury, Conn., on Dec. 28.
The fire was reported in a single barn around 6:30 a.m., and the Simsbury Volunteer Fire Department was on the site within 10 minutes. Alison Patricelli, general manager and owner of Folly Farm, said the fire was extinguished within 15 minutes of first responders’ arrival. A specific cause has not been reported, but Patricelli said the fire has been ruled accidental. Horses housed in other barns on the property were not affected.
Three horses were privately owned, and the rest were lesson horses in Folly Farms’ riding and polo programs. They died from smoke inhalation.
“These horses were the basis of all our community programs—our summer camps, our riding school, our polo school,” said Patricelli. “So when you lose the heart and soul of your farm like this you can’t describe it.”
Folly Farm has been owned by the Patricelli family for 35 years and sits on 175 acres. The business includes its show stables and polo club. Shachine Belle’s Belle Equestrian and KC Claffee’s Silver Springs Farm also call the property home.
“I would like to personally thank my staff, who have been here for the most case over 20 years,” Patricelli said. “David Guerrero, our barn manager, Cara Chapel, our head riding instructor, and Susan Millar, head of our riding school and IEA coach, have known these horses forever. Their relationship with these horses cannot be described. I would like to acknowledge their feelings of grief, as well as my own.”
Patricelli said she has received dozens of calls from across the country regarding donations, and though she and the staff at Folly Farm are grateful for the offered support, they want to focus on the immediate needs of horses and staff on property. Patricelli said she expects to have a plan for accepting help within the next few days.