Two horses have died in a fire that burned down a stable block in Greater Manchester on Tuesday (22 April).

A 9-year-old cob, General, and a 27-year-old Shetland, Penny, were shut inside the wooden stables off Ashworth Lane, Bolton, when the blaze started between 4.30 and 5am. Neighbours called firefighters, who brought the flames under control, but the horses were burned alive.

The fire is being treated as arson, after police found petrol and firelighters at the scene. Bolton CID’s Detective Constable Dave Harris confirmed that a joint investigation with the fire service has been launched.

“We are appealing for witnesses after 2 horses died in an arson attack in Bolton,” he said. “This was a deliberate fire that caused the death of 2 horses. The owner is understandably very distressed and we want to find out who did this as soon as possible.”

The horses’ owners, Samantha Brierley, 38, and her 10-year-old daughter, Milli Knowles are devastated at losing General and Penny. Samantha works with horses, and Milli was hoping to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Milli’s father John Knowles told local papers that “my daughter’s baby has been taken away from her”, while Sam said she “felt like my heart has been ripped out”.

John and fiancée Samantha had been renting the stables since last year from landowner David Davies, who had been due to auction the stables, nearby home and land this week. He was on scene at 6am on the morning of the fire and telephoned Samantha.

Anyone with information should call the police on tel: 0161 856 5772 or Crimestoppers on tel: 0800 555 111.