Event rider Tom Crisp is “still counting the cost” after a fire ripped through his East Sussex yard.

The blaze, which is reported to have started at around 11pm on Saturday night (16 June), has “wiped out” an entire top yard, of nine stables, a hay barn, tack and feed rooms, workshop and a coach house.

“The fire started in the hay barn area, likely due to carelessness, possibly a cigarette butt,” explained Tom, who was competing in both the CIC3* and CCI4* at Luhmühlen in Germany at the time.

“We don’t have any evidence or CCTV, and I’m hoping it wasn’t anything suspicious.”

Tom, who also happens to be a crew manager for the Mayfield Community Fire Station, a branch of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue service, said he was quickly informed about the blaze and then watched it take a hold via FaceTime.

“I put a message onto a work WhatsApp group I have among my fellow firefighters explaining the fire was at my yard,” said Tom. “When they realised it was ‘Crispy’s’ place, they all got out of bed to try and help — there were four appliances and a water bowser present. They even managed to empty the swimming pool on site to help dowse the flames.”

Tom said the fire took hold quickly as the barn was full of hay.

“Thankfully there were no horses or ponies in the yard at the time of the fire as we turned them all out to make life easier for our yard staff while we were in Germany,” explained Tom, who despite the distraction of what had happened at home, still managed to complete on both horses he was competing on the Sunday.

“We called the stables that have burnt down the ‘family yard’, as it’s where my boys’, Harry and Hugo’s, ponies were kept — they’ve lost all their stuff, like riding hats and tack. The tack room was about 26 years old and full of pictures and sentimental items. We’re still counting the loss.”

No people were hurt in the fire, but all power and phone lines have been damaged and lost.

“The power in the tack room was linked to the power in our house and it’s all gone — we’re digging trenches at the moment to try and get it back. It’s a lot of work on top of the lot of work we already had as we are also in the process of building a house just down the track and are about to embark on two weeks of haymaking,” said Tom, who has 12 CCI4* completions to his name.

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“People have been so kind and generous — I picked up two generators yesterday which have been donated to us until we restore power. We’ve been offered stables and equipment and it is a lovely gesture. Our number one priority is to get our phone lines and power back up and running but it’s going to take a long time to get completely back on track.”

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