‘There is nothing left’: yard burnt to the ground in suspected arson

The distraught owner of a yard that was burnt to the ground in a suspected arson attack said she cannot believe anyone would do such a thing.

Carol Bryce found out her stables at Old Swarland in Northumberland had been destroyed when she received a message at 9.30am on Saturday (24 August).

Carol, who lives around 20 miles away, told H&H: “I had been at the yard with my mum, Anne, the night before and everything was fine. The next morning the farmer’s wife messaged me and told me – I thought she was joking at first. I rang the police and went straight to the yard.

“When I arrived the fire had burnt itself out and was smouldering. There is absolutely nothing left; my barn with five stables and my tackroom are gone. I had a glass clock on the wall in the tackroom and it had turned into a nugget, the heat must have been that intense. The yard is on a country road and no one had reported it.”

Carol’s three horses; 20-year-old Sian, 18-year-old Charlie and two-year-old Dillon, were not in the stables at the time of the fire, which is thought to have broken out at around midnight.

The barn prior to the fire.

“The horses were in the field and I leave the barn open so they can wander in out whenever they want to. Dillon has been a bit overweight so sometimes I leave him in a stable overnight but fortunately I hadn’t. If my horses had been in that would have been it – they would have been gone,” said Carol.

“Dillon has been very clingy since and won’t leave me alone. He has developed an eye problem which the vet thinks was caused by smoke irritation so he is on painkillers and eye drops. Charlie and Sian keep looking over the yard gate at the barn – they can’t understand why they can’t go in and out of a barn any more.”

Carol said the fire brigade attended on Saturday morning to “dampen things down”.

“I haven’t got any electricity on site and the only thing in the stables was rubber matting – I had cleared everything out in preparation for winter. There was nothing that could have sparked a fire so the police thing it was arson,” she said.

“I’ve had a lot of support from people in the area. Everyone is worried it could happen to their place too.”

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Carol, who was made redundant in March, said she saved for years to build the stables in 2016.

“I’m absolutely distraught – I don’t know what to do,” she said.

“I can’t believe someone could do this. I bought the yard in 2015 for my older horses to retire at. It was the most beautiful place; I had spent money on drainage, put in a pond – it was a wildlife haven.”

A spokesman for Northumberland Police said: “Enquiries into the cause of the fire are ongoing but at this stage it is being treated as arson. Anyone with information, or anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously overnight on Friday and Saturday, is asked to call police on 101 quoting log 384 24/08/19.”

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