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Horse owners are urged to be safety savvy after £72millio worth of fire damage to rural property was claimed last year.

But it’s not just the cost. In July 2 horses died in a horsebox fire near Blackpool and last month a horse died in a barn fire in Devon.

This week is National Fire Safety Week (6-12 October) and insurers NFU Mutual are warning owners to update their fire precautions.

“It is really important that owners are aware of the potential fire risks and have a clearly defined fire procedure in place,” said NFU’s Nicki Whittaker.

Jim Green from Hampshire Fire and Rescue added: “The trouble is fires with horses are often in remote places, so there’s less water available. And there are lots of flammable things at yards. The message is don’t wait til it happens — be prepared.”

And it applies when travelling horses too.

Recently H&H reported that Chorley-based Vincent and Cathy Mulready, their 10-year-old daughter Pippa and their pony had a narrow escape when fire engulfed their lorry on the M62 motorway en-route to the British Riding Clubs national championships (7 September).

According to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, nearly three-quarters of accidental vehicle fires are due to defects, especially in wiring and batteries.

And Nicki added that few horsebox owners actually carry a fire extinguisher with them.

“I attended a breakdown recently where the battery on an old Leyland lorry had caught fire,” she said.

“The lady had no fire extinguisher onboard and we had to put out the fire with a wet towel, but not before they had unloaded the horse on a busy road as they were worried the fire would take hold.”