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Barn fire in Lancaster County, PA - horses saved

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  • Barn fire in Lancaster County, PA - horses saved

    Anybody have more information? Glad to hear the horses are ok, and I hope the knocked-down emergency worker is ok, too.


    "Several horses were saved after a barn caught fire Wednesday night in Little Britain Township.

    A rescue worker was taken to the hospital after being knocked down by a horse.

    Emergency personnel were called to the area of 311 Nottingham Road just after 9 p.m.

    Officials arriving at the scene saw heavy smoke billowing from the multisection barn, which still had some horses inside, according to Robert Fulton Deputy Chief Matt Barto.

    The owners of the property were working to rescue the animals, he said.

    "(The owners) were just letting them go, trying to get them out as fast as they could," Barto said.

    In the midst of the rescue, one of the animals "got spooked" and knocked down a member of the ambulance crew, Barto said.

    The woman was taken to Lancaster General Hospital. Barto said he had no information about her injuries.

    He said the fire started near a skid loader in the basement of the barn but said he didn't know specifically what sparked the blaze.

    The fire will be investigated by a state police fire marshal, he added.

    Barto said the two-story wooden barn, which is comprised of three sections — two end buildings that measure about 100 feet by 60 feet and a middle section about 90 feet by 50 feet — sustained no structural damage.

    He said the structure was ventilated and horses were being put back in the building late Wednesday.

    Loss of the skid loader was estimated at $4,000, according to Barto."

  • #2
    Re: Barn Fire

    I made an account just to reply to this post. The barn in question was our barn. Not all the details in the article are accurate, but it's close.

    We are a non-profit called After the Races. We had 17 horses in the barn at the time of the fire. 11 in the main part of the barn where the smoke was the worst, and 6 in a separate part of the barn that we use for quarantining animals. 13 of the horses are OTTBs, most are fresh off the track as we get them from the track, rehab them, then rehome them.

    Our barn is a bit unusual in how it's designed. At the far end of the main horse barn is our manure pit which is partially under the barn (built into the hill we sit on). There's a trap door that leads down into it from the stall area. There's an exterior entrance into the manure pit that is through a large two-story run-in. Someone from the land owner's company left a skid loader parked down by the manure pit (which is not unusual, they use it to move our manure) around 3PM. Something in the skid loader at some point started smoldering, and by 9PM had caught fire.

    A wonderful good Samaritan was driving by and saw the smoke coming from the barn. He didn't have a phone so he flagged down another driver and they called the fire department at 9:07. I was called at 9:13 (I live on the other side of the farm with another girl that helps take care of the horses) and had started hearing sirens at the same moment).

    By 9:15 I arrived at the barn and there were already several fire trucks there and firemen in the barn. I found out they tried to let one horse out and she bolted, knocking over an EMT before jumping into a nearby paddock (partially breaking through the fence). This particular horse had only been on our property for 24 hours and did not know where to go or who to go to. They told me I couldn't go in the barn and when they realized we didn't care, they started helping rather than trying to stop us. The good Samaritan from before, Tom, just happened to have head lamps which he passed out to us and he proceeded to go with me stall by stall to try and get horses out.

    Got two more horses out by hand and put them in a paddock out front before the smoke got too thick to see. One of the firemen had responded to my plea and opened all the stall doors for me (I think it was one of the Amish volunteer firefighters). When the smoke got too thick for those of us without breathing equipment we started jumping through exterior stall windows to chase the horses out of their stalls where they were hiding and confused. ALL of these horses ran out into the adjoining ENCLOSED pasture where my husband manned the gate and prevented them from returning to the barn. We weren't just "letting them go" like the article implied.

    I should also mention a vet that lives across the street, Judith Shoemaker from Always Helpful Veterinary Services, and her assistant Donna were among the first there and were helping us get the horses out and relocate them to pastures as needed. They also stayed until the end of the night helping check the horses and make sure each was okay. A volunteer at our barn (Christy) who lives very close and is a good friend also came flying over as soon as she heard. I was there (President/Director of AtR), as was my barn manager Chelsea, my husband James, and several neighbors such as Jim and Roy to name a few.

    As bad and as thick as the smoke was, the barn suffered no FIRE damage. The skid loader was doused very quickly and they broke some windows on the side of the barn by the manure pit to ventilate the shed. We opened all the barn windows (which are huge on our barn) and with the 30 mph winds from the storm that was also raging at the time quickly cleared all the smoke.

    At worst, some of the horses were in the barn for about 30 minutes of smoke, but because nothing was burning in the barn, it was just thick, black smoke, no hot ash or very hot air which the vets said was our saving grace. By 11PM we were bringing in muddy/steaming horses from the fields and they were actually able to return to their stalls. Our vets came out and checked each one. Gave two banamine that got the worst of the smoke, gave one banamine that was just acting uncomfortable, but they said they all looked great considering what they'd been through.

    We got very, very lucky. There were a LOT of great first-responders, neighbors, and strangers that made a happy ending possible. We could not be more grateful. We haven't posted anything on our website yet, but you can see the horses that were in our barn on our website and Facebook page.


    I will get pictures of the barn later today, but the only thing that looks damaged is the windows that they busted. We were very, very lucky!


    • #3
      Bonnie, I am so glad to hear everything turned out ok. Must have been very scary for all of you and the horses. Let me know if you need anything.

      AtR is a wonderful group and does an excellent job re-homing OTTBs. We got a lovely gelding from them a couple of months ago, and he is just a doll!



      • #4
        Originally posted by AfterTheRaces View Post
        Our barn is a bit unusual in how it's designed. At the far end of the main horse barn is our manure pit which is partially under the barn (built into the hill we sit on). There's a trap door that leads down into it from the stall area. There's an exterior entrance into the manure pit that is through a large two-story run-in. Someone from the land owner's company left a skid loader parked down by the manure pit (which is not unusual, they use it to move our manure) around 3PM. Something in the skid loader at some point started smoldering, and by 9PM had caught fire.
        First, I am very sorry this happened to you; very glad there were no casualties. Barn fires are so scary.

        Second, I have seen a fire start in a manure pile (in a manure spreader that was parked inside the barn, similar to your setup) - it created TONS of smoke and maybe would have taken the barn down had it not been found in time. In this instance, it was found, the barn worker hooked up the tractor and pulled the spreader outside, and the breeze caused the actual flames to start up (prior to that, it was smoldering and smoking). They only lost their spreader, but it was still very scary!

        I will always be very careful about an indoor manure pile for this exact reason (btw, this incident happened in the upper midwest, in winter - it was very cold out, and the manure still got hot enough to catch fire.)


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kadenz View Post
          Second, I have seen a fire start in a manure pile (in a manure spreader that was parked inside the barn, similar to your setup) - it created TONS of smoke and maybe would have taken the barn down had it not been found in time.
          Thank you. I've heard of this happening as well. Oddly enough though, our pit was 100% empty the day of the fire. He'd just finished scraping it out, and then just left his skid loader down there. We're thinking some sawdust or old hay or something must have gotten in the machine and gotten hot enough to smolder. Don't know for certain though!


          • #6
            Very scary indeed. Glad all the horses got out.


            • #7
              So glad to hear there were no casualties and you didn't lose the barn! How terrifying!
              Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


              • #8
                So glad to hear that the damage was minimal and no loss of life, human or horses.
                "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple” – Barry Switzer


                • #9
                  Thank you for joining and giving us the updated story.
                  Glad to hear everyone is doing well.