A barn fire at Julie Curtin’s New Vintage Farm in Woodstock, Ga., claimed the lives of 15 horses late yesterday evening.
Pablo Aguilar, Tito Aguilar, Jose Felix Vega Mendoa and Antonio Hernandez Ortiz, four longtime grooms who live at the Woodstock, Ga., hunter jumper barn, smelled smoke around midnight last night, Nov. 26, and immediately went down to find a the barn burning. They called the fire department and started evacuating the barn. They managed to get 20 horses out, but 15 perished, as well as two miniature donkeys and a Chihuahua. No humans died.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this point.
“I was in Gatlinburg, Tenn., having Thanksgiving with my boyfriend [Jeff Green] and his family, so when we got the call we jumped in the car and drove while the guys were working,” said Curtin. “When I got there my assistant Amy Barrett, the guys, my mom and stepdad were there and the fire department. The guys were incredible—they kept going in until they couldn’t breathe any more. They had their own horses there as well as show horses, and they were pulling out show horses before their own.”
Phoebe Loughrey is collecting clothing and money for the rescuers, who lost all their belongings in the fire, at her Phoebe Loughrey Stables in Alpharetta, Ga.
Green, a professional shipper, enlisted a friend to move the horses to Wills Park Equestrian Center in nearby Alpharetta, Ga. One horse suffered a puncture wound, but other than that they’re all healthy and settled in. Grooms from other barns showed up to help put up tarps at Wills to block the wind, as the temperature dropped to 25 degrees. Others have donated tack and been asking how to help.
“They have buckets, and grain and hay and they’re bedded down for the night,” said Curtin. “We’ve set up camp there, and we’ll regroup and figure out how we lost everything. We don’t have saddles, bridles, nothing. I don’t have a list yet of what we need.”
Those who wish to help may contribute to a Go Fund Me page which has been set up here: http://www.gofundme.com/hw28u4