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January 20, 2012

Fire Rips Through Winkel's Maplewood Stables

A fast-moving brush fire tore through hunter/jumper trainer Julie Winkel’s Maplewood Stables in the Pleasant Valley area of Reno, Nev., on Jan. 19. No horses or humans were injured, but there is significant damage to the property, and Winkel’s home was destroyed.

Around noon Winkel was at home and saw the fire in the distance.

“I grabbed a few things from my house, and we immediately started hooking up the trailers,” said Winkel. “We have eight interns and an evacuation plan, so we were able to get the horses out of all four barns.”

Within half an hour of sighting the blaze, Winkel’s home was on fire, thanks to 82 mph winds.

They moved 50 horses across the street to Lynn and Joe Mullins’ nearby farm. That still left 30 yearlings, 2-, 3- and 4-year-olds, which lived in fields near the barns. Barn manager Lyn Mundt and the Comstock Equine Hospital staff were on hand to help move the young horses from one field to another as the fields burned. The young horses stayed in a dry lot on the Maplewood property overnight.

“The interns are really good, and they kept a level head,” said Winkel. “But the wind was blowing so hard; the smoke and fire were so close to the main barn we had to lead the horses down toward the fields to load them. We couldn’t see or breathe.  They’ve settled into the new barn well.”

In addition to Winkel’s home, the fire destroyed Maplewood’s grand prix field and much of the fencing on the property. The barns and indoor arena remain intact.  Winkel has been on that 150-acre property for 25 years.

Winkel is an active judge in the hunter, jumper and equitation rings, most recently judging USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. Maplewood also hosted the 2009 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program Nationals.