Fire safety warning after horses die in arson attack

  • An owner is urging others to be more aware of fire safety and preparation after her horse was killed in an arson attack.

    Maggie Appleby’s mare Allie died in April when a fire broke out at the yard near Houghton-le-Spring. Four other horses died and 15 were rescued.

    A member of the public spotted the blaze at around 5am and called the fire service.

    Allie was a 19-year-old showjumper, who had only been on the yard a weekend as she had just been put on loan.

    “It was horrendous, such a shock,” Mrs Appleby told H&H. “I woke up to seven missed calls and knew something had to be wrong. The barn was completely burnt out. The door was shut so the firefighters didn’t even know they were in there. It was so upsetting.

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    Mrs Appleby is now trying to raise awareness of fire safety. The fire brigade originally went to the wrong yard as they didn’t have the correct address.

    “Two things leapt out at us from our tragedy,” she said.

    “Firstly the fire brigade need the address, post code and ordinance survey reference number so they can arrive at the correct yard. Secondly the number of stables/blocks there are at that yard.

    “It will most likely be a member of the general public who spots the fire and they will not have this information to hand.”

    She has produced a sign which can be mounted on the outside of buildings, gates, fences etc, and written on with a marker pen.

    Mrs Appleby has also produced a leaflet to accompany the sign with suggestions to improve fire safety on and around the yard, and where people can go to find more information should they want to.

    “The horse world in general is very complacent. The people I have approached at local shows over this summer, their reaction has been ‘Oh! We don’t need that’. It is very disheartening. You always think it’s never going to happen to you but it could.”

    For more on fire safety read H&H’s piece here

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