Five horses have been killed during a fire at a livery yard in Houghton-le-Spring on Monday (20 April).
Firefighters from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service arrived at Coxgreen Stables, New Penshaw, at 4.55am and worked to extinguish the blaze.
15 other horses in adjoining stables were led to safety.
“We’re a bit numb from this and it hasn’t sunk in – it is devastating for all the family, the liveries and the horse community as a whole,” yard manager Dean Mould told H&H.
“We have had horses all our lives, it’s in my blood.
“It’s been very disheartening.”
The farrier added that he hopes to rebuild the family-run livery yard, but the remains of the stables need to be demolished first.
“We hope to keep it as livery and move forward from this,” he added.
Jasmine Rawson’s two horses were killed, a 22-year-old thoroughbred called Sasha, and a four-year-old cob named Diesel.
“This is devastating,” Ms Rawson told local press.
“I’ve had Sasha since I was 16, I’m 24 now.
“We’ve had horses since I was tiny. When we got the call I couldn’t speak.”
Firefighters believe the roof of the barn containing the stables collapsed following the fire.
The building was divided into three stable blocks, one of which was completely destroyed. A second block was damaged by fire and smoke, while the third block suffered moderate smoke damage.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the owners of the horses that died in this fire. The cause is currently under investigation,” said Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service group manager John Allison.