Operation Esther has been mobilised again after a fire has devastated an animal sanctuary in Bedfordshire.

The Alternative Animal Sanctuary in Pepperstock, Luton alerted fire crews to the fire late last night, Thursday 31 January.

The sanctuary currently homes 34 horses as well as many other animals. All the horses escaped unharmed but six dogs and several geese died.

Operation Esther co-founder, Julie Magnus, who runs Julie Magnus Racehorse Transport, has posted pleas for help on the H&H forum and is already arranging an emergency delivery of goods to Pepperstock.

Ms Magnus told H&H “We have heard the devastating news regarding this animal sanctuary and we are mobilising again.

“It’s in my local area so I’m doing what I can. I have already 15 rugs and a promise of feed for the Sanctuary and can deliver this afternoon once we get a bit more.

“At the moment the major appeal is for rugs and hay as the sanctuary have none other than what are on the horses themselves.

“If anyone can help please do contact me on 07711192967.”

Fire broke out in the wooden building that sanctuary manager Tamara Lloyd lived in and spread to the surrounding buildings including the stable block due to the high winds.

Their main concern was to evacuate all the animals in the barns and stables. The 34 horses were evacuated immediately.

The horses are now having to live outside and all their food, rugs and tack were destroyed.

Ms Lloyd told H&H “One of the biggest problems is the weather, we’re worried about what will happen to the horses. We can’t bring them in as their stables are all burnt down. It is a complete nightmare.”

The fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault at around 11pm and was put out at approximately 5.30am but fire crews remained at the sanctuary dampening down throughout the morning to ensure the fire did not restart.

Ms Lloyd said: “We now need to decide what we’re going to do next. And what we can afford to do.”

The sanctuary has been at Pepperstock for 24 years and is a registered charity. Many animals remain at the sanctuary for life.

As well as the horses the sanctuary also homes pigs, goats, cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, fish and terrapins.