Community members rallied together to ensure horses were safely removed from Kildare Stables west of Keene after a devastating fire tore through the property on Saturday afternoon.
Thirty-five Otonabee-South Monaghan firefighters from all four fire halls in the township responded to the barn fire at Keene Road and County Road 2 just after noon.
As firefighters fought the fire — it took crews five hours to control the blaze — residents and members of the local horse-riding community rushed to the scene to help transport horses away from the area.
Shay Thompson of Douro-Dummer Township was one of them.
Thompson, along with several other helpers, were watching a riding show at Endless Journey Farm in Omemee when Kildare Stables operators put out a call for assistance.
“Lots of people helped (and brought trailers). All horses were safely loaded and trailered to Saddlewood (Riding Camp),” Thompson told The Examiner.
Kildare Stables offers boarding and training programs at the Keene area facility.
Taking to Facebook on Saturday, its operators lamented the loss of the barn and thanked community members for their help.
“What an absolutely devastating day for us at Kildare. Our clients and our horses lost their home today. Thankfully all people and horses are safe,” read the statement posted to the Kildare Stables Facebook page.
“Thank you to our community for jumping into action with trailers and bodies to help … thank you for all your help loading horses, trailering and slugging necessities,” continued the online post.
“We are shocked by the day’s events and in awe of the support.”
Otonabee-Monaghan South Fire Chief Chuck Parsons said the impacted structure was half stable stalls and half riding arena.
While it was a “total loss,” firefighters on the scene managed to battle the blaze — fuelled by strong winds — to ensure it didn’t reach two nearby structures: a wooden barn and an equipment shed.
“I saw horse trailers coming in from everywhere. The owners looked after that so we could focus on the fire, which was great,” Parsons said.
“The crews did an amazing job. It was a tough day but we got through it and we had a positive result in saving those two other buildings.”
A subsequent investigation determined the fire was caused by spontaneous combustion: hay on the property caught fire, he said.
Parsons is reminding residents to ensure hay is kept dry — not damp — and encourages farmers to always have fire extinguishers at the ready near their barns.
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at email@example.com.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner